Obituary: Tribute to former correspondent José Cockrem
José (Josephine) Cockrem died peacefully on Friday, March 13, at her home in Cheddington, aged 77, writes Deborah Hodgetts.
A former Cheddington correspondent for the Leighton Buzzard Observer and Bucks Herald, José gave so much to her village and the wider area through her reports and her weekly column. Cheddington has lost a valuable member of its community.
José came to Cheddington when she was two years old, with her parents from their former home in Cheshire. Her father was the Head Gardener for Captain Lawrence Stoddart at Cheddington Manor.
As a child José attended Cheddington School, and as a grown woman one of her first jobs was with an insurance company based formerly in Aylesbury, then later in their offices in Berkhamstead. In the early years in this job she would cycle to Pitstone, then catch the bus the rest of her journey.
José’s main job was as a secretary to the head of British Waterways. She was based at their offices in Bulbourne, Tring, where the workshops for the lock gates and other fittings were made.
While here she was given a presentation of a tea set to mark her 25 years of service.
On her retirement she found great pleasure in her role as a Room Guide at Woburn Abbey. She was widely well-read and extremely knowledgeable, and she was always delighted to share her knowledge with her friends and fellow villagers.
In Cheddington she took her role as correspondent with the LBO very seriously, she enjoyed attending an enormous number of meetings and events with all of the village organisations, for which she reported and kept the villagers well informed with her inimitable style. José most definitely put Cheddington on the map locally, as a key member of village life in Cheddington, raising awareness through her reports and weekly column with the LBO and the Bucks Herald.
Although José was the soul of Cheddington’s community, she was also a very private individual who lived gracefully until the very end.
José had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the villagers in Cheddington and seemed to know who everyone was, whom they were married to and where they lived within the village. She was also a good neighbour to many villagers throughout her life. She had a real feel for the heart of Cheddington, which she conveyed through her work within the village. José also had a real feeling for village life, and was always ready for a chat.
One of José’s great joys was being a member of Cheddington Methodist Church, of which she had been a member since her childhood years. Her work as a lay preacher gave her great solace, and was a very important part of her life. She was very involved and always gave herself to her duties within the church and within the wider community selflessly.
In recent years due to a deterioration in her health José, was unable to continue her public life out and about, and was sadly confined to home, but she never had so much as a touch of self-pity and still kept her amazing knowledge trigger-sharp.
Others will have their own memories of this real village character, which we all grew to appreciate over the years. José was a true diamond in the village of Cheddington’s Crown. Her friends and other villagers remember her as being inspirational, hardworking and a truly unique person.
Her friend and fellow villager Eve Sharp told me that José had supported her as the secretary of the WI when she had been president, and about the many times José had supported her in various organisations and groups within the village. Eve said: “José always knew what was needed, and was always ready to help.”
Resident of Cheddington, Jean Daniels also told me how José had assisted with raising and publicising the fundraising for building the Cheddington Village Hall, through her tireless publicity and through her various sources within the press.
She will be greatly missed and there are no more words to say – other than that a light has gone out in Cheddington, but I know she’ll be joyfully looking on with pride!