From Queen Mary School pupil to governor via many years as Gazette education writer - tributes to Jill Sutton

Tribute has been paid to long-serving former Gazette education correspondent Jill Sutton, who has died, aged 85.

By Tony Durkin
Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 1:56 pm

Jill, a mum of six and also a grandmother, was proud of a lifelong association with Lytham, having been a pupil at the former Queen Mary School and later being keenly involved for many years in parish activities at the town’s St Cuthbert’s Church, where a service of thanksgiving will be held for her on Saturday, November 27.

After retirement from The Gazette in 1992, Jill went on to be a governor of Lytham Schools, which covered the adjacent King Edward and Queen Mary Schools, later to merge and now part of AKS.

Following her schooldays at Queen Mary, Jill, always a keen musician, went on to study music at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and, said son Johnny, initially had her sights set on teaching.

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“But she always loved writing and decided to go into journalism, initially with the Lytham St Annes Express and then with the Gazette,” said Johnny.

Jill has two spells with the papers, initially from 1957, before taking a break for several years in the 60s and 70s to have a family before retiring in 1992.

She was education correspondent up to her retirement, covering a host of major developments at schools and colleges across the coast.

The former Queen Mary School, where Jill was a pupil and later a governor.

Former Blackpool Gazette deputy editor David Upton recalls Jill as a thorough and highly-respected education correspondent, who could write with flair and authority.

“She had re-joined the paper after bringing up her extended family,” he said.

“Her reputation for dogged and balanced reporting of the Fylde coast’s education services earned the admiration of her colleagues on the paper, and - importantly - the confidence of head teachers, their staff, pupils and parents across the Fylde area.”

Despite her roots in Lytham, Jill and her family, after marriage to second husband Bill Sutton, a local solicitor, lived for many years in Poulton and David recalls Jill joking to him that they were in a house “big enough to let anyone play Macbeth if they wanted to”.

“Some years later they moved to Lytham Green,” he added.

Former King Edward School headmaster Julian Wilde recalls Jill from governors’ meetings.

“Jill Sutton always made a very positive contribution as a governor of the Lytham Schools,” said Julian.

“She had a likeable and warm personality and was interested in all aspects of school life.

“I always enjoyed the thoughtful external perspective she brought to meetings of the governors and I was grateful for the support she provided for the work of me and my staff “.

Along with her parish work at St Cuthbert’s, such as providing meals on wheels for housebound parishioners, Jill was also involved in voluntarty work in fund-raising for Trinity Hospice.

Son Johnny, 61, said his mum was very proud of her time with The Gazette and of her education correspondent role.

“She initially set out with a teaching career in mind to build on her interest in music but she loved writing and the role provided the ideal combination,” he said.

“She never looked back after getting the opportunity to work for the Lytham St Annes Express and The Gazette, thoroughly enjoyed her time there.

“She made some wonderful friends on the paper over the years and always looked back on her time there fondly.”

Jill died at the Hamptons Care Home in St Annes and her service of thanksgiving will be held at St Cuthbert’s Church, Lytham on Saturday November 27, at 11am.

The family asks no flowers but donations in her memory can be sent for Trinity Hospice c/o Horsfield and Family Funeral Directors, 1a St Davids Road North, Lytham St Annes. FY8 2AT. There will be a donations box on the day.

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