TRIBUTES were today paid to former Gazette women’s editor Jackie Heap who has died after a short illness at her Thornton home at the age of 73.
Jackie, who wrote under her maiden name, and was fondly known as ‘Heapie’ to her colleagues, worked for the paper for almost 40 years, retiring in 1994.
The newsroom stalwart transformed The Gazette’s women’s coverage, ensuring the then new EVE section moved from the “sycophancy” of the old days into a campaigning, charitable and fashionable reflection of real Fylde resident’s lives.
She wrote: “EVE can make things happen. A young girl wants to model – we can do it.
“A child with a handicap wants a treat – we can try, a charity that is truly local wants support – we give it.”
Jackie helped raise funds for a bone scanner, exposed rogue traders, once pursued Enoch Powell for a scoop, and began The Gazette’s Quality Street campaign, to halt the decline of Blackpool.
Jean Marsh, 79, of Cleveleys, formerly leader of local branch of the National Osteoporosis Society, said: “Jackie was the first reporter to support us, personally and professionally and prove what a paper can achieve. Many are in Jackie’s debt to this day.”
Jackie joined The Gazette as a teenager in the 1950s.
As a junior reporter she was crowned Douglas Carnival Queen after visiting the Isle of Man on holiday.
In 1961 she visited Rome and left in love, marrying Mario Lirde Tedeschi two months later at Bispham Parish Church.
Homesick she returned with their two-year-old daughter Caterina in 1964.
After divorcing she married architect Eric Forster 41 years ago.
They became stalwarts of Blackpool and Fleetwood Yacht Club.
In 1994 Jackie retired, the women’s editorship was passed to her best friend, the late Susan Greenhalgh. Jackie leaves husband Eric, Caterina, son-in-law Mark and grandson Jack.
Her funeral is at Carleton Crematorium on Wednesday at 3pm, followed by a gathering at Blackpool and Fleetwood Yacht Club at Skippool Creek. Family flowers only, donations to the Alzheimer’s Society and Oxfam.