Bury St Edmunds: Tributes paid to passionate supporter of hospice

A family has today paid tribute to a passionate St Nicholas Hospice Care supporter and Bury St Edmunds Amateur and Operatic Society member, who died suddenly last week.

Jane Rutherford, 63, of Rede, suffered a sudden and catastrophic brain haemorrhage early last Wednesday morning, October 31, and died at West Suffolk Hospital later that day.

Jane, who was born in Redditch, Worcestershire, spent her career working in the NHS.

She first moved to Bury St Edmunds as director of personnel at West Suffolk Health Authority in 1983.

In the late 1980s she became director of healthcare commissioning for West Suffolk Health Authority, before becoming director of corporate services of Suffolk Health Authority.

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Jane spent more than 30 years with the NHS, only retiring some time after health authorities were disbanded in 2002.

Following her retirement she volunteered at St Nicholas Hospice Care before being appointed to its Board of Trustees. She spent nine years as a trustee, filling the role of vice-chairman for many years.

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Nigel Smith, Jane’s partner of 20 years, said: “Jane felt that she had a lot to offer at the hospice, given her extensive knowledge of health care and human resources. She wanted to give something back to the community – she always was a tremendous giver.

“Everybody always said Jane made time for them and never said a bad word against anybody.”

In addition to her work at the hospice Jane was involved with Bury St Edmunds Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society – running front of house at the Theatre Royal for the society’s production of Half a Sixpence, in October; The Suffolk Horse Society - thanks to her involvement with Suffolk Punch horses; and The Aquarius Singers.

Kathryn Smith, Jane’s step-daughter, said: “Jane loved to sing and perform more than anything. If she was not performing in a BSEAODS production she would always help out in some way.”

Nigel said: “Jane believed in organ donation. Her liver went to what is known as a super-urgent patient with just 72 hours to live, and her kidneys went to another two people. So three lives have been helped, which is one of the few positives to come out of this.”

Barbara Gale, St Nicholas Hospice Care chief executive, said: “Everyone at the hospice has been devastated by Jane’s death. She was an excellent vice-chairman of our Board of Trustees, someone who always thought of others before herself, she had an excellent eye for detail and was a real ambassador for the hospice. She even found time to act as a volunteer receptionist and she truly was one of the unsung heroes of our hospice.

“In addition, she had a great sense of fun which was infectious. She will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with all her friends and family.”

Nigel added: “Jane loved to organise everything and everybody. Despite being a busy person, she created time to do everything and to see the people in her life.

“She was also passionate about the hospice. She thoroughly enjoyed her role there.”

Jane leaves her partner Nigel, step-children Kathryn and Stuart, grandson Elliott, her mother, two sisters and two brothers.

The funeral service will be held at St Mary’s Church, in Bury St Edmunds, on Friday, November 16, at 1pm, followed by a private family cremation.

The family asks mourners to join them after the service at Ravenwood Hall Hotel, in Rougham.

Family flowers only, with donations if desired in memory of Jane to St Nicholas Hospice Care c/o Armstrongs Funeral Service, 43 St Andrew’s Street North, Bury St Edmunds.

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