A talented performer who was made an MBE for her dedication to helping others has died at the age of 93.

The daughter of a renowned hotelier, Jeanne Bowker not only provided people with information and advice but also supported many others in combating various speech impediments.

Jeanne Frances Emma Bush was born in Norwich on April 20, 1929. Her father, Arthur Henry Bush, was well-known in the Waveney area and gave generously to the Harleston community. She joined her sister Hylda, affectionately called “Binky”, who was ten years her senior.

The sisters grew up at the Magpie Hotel – the family business – in Harleston, south Norfolk. The hotel was at the centre of its community, welcoming farmers on market day and hosting dinners for local clubs and societies.

During the holidays, Jeanne’s bedroom would often be used for guests, forcing her to stay at a nearby farm and rise early to milk the cows. One morning she ran away, only to be found by the milk cart along a nearby lane.

One night, during the Second World War, her father was informed about an air raid and sounded the siren. Along with the guests, everyone in the hotel made their way to the cellar and sat on barrels dressed only in nightwear.

The rise of Adolf Hitler spoilt her birthday for decades. As they shared the date, people took great notice of it and no one felt like celebrating on that day. She also experienced further injustice including imposed segregation amongst the American forces, recalling the time a fight broke out when a black serviceman insisted on going into the front bar.

Despite these unwelcomed moments, she embraced happier memories such as seeing shows in London with her mother during the Blitz.

She attended Miss Nuttall’s in Harleston before going to boarding school at Felixstowe College, which had moved to Riddlesworth Hall near Diss during the war. She hated games and would hide in trees to read a book instead. She also hated maths and would write poems during those lessons.

In 1940, her sister married childhood sweetheart Noel Lusher but tragically became a widow in August 1941 when he was shot down over Denmark. Then, following a long sickness with cancer, their mother Kate died in February 1947.

In the same year, Jeanne went to Warwickshire to study at the Birmingham School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art where she lived with her sister who had remarried an airman from the area and settled there. She was described as an “excellent actress” and was tipped by the drama school to be the next Joan Crawford.

On completion of her studies in 1949, she moved to Rosary Road, Norwich, and offered elocution lessons while teaching speech and drama at Riddlesworth Hall.

She became good friends with Roy Clark and his family and would visit his bookshop in Tombland which would go on to become the headquarters of the operation to save the Norfolk Wherry Albion. She became an early committee member of the Wherry Trust. She organised and performed in two theatre shows to raise funds.

She also performed in a number of BBC radio plays before encountering the infamous “casting couch”. After refusing a casting director’s unwarranted advances, he told her he would make sure she never worked in the industry again.

In 1955, she returned to Warwickshire to teach drama and public speaking at Solihull Institute of Further Education. In its staff room, she met English teacher Norman Bowker. They would later marry in July, 1959, at St Peter’s, Riddlesworth.

The year after meeting Mr Bowker, she was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer and given three months. Thanks to a chance encounter between her father and a consultant from the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, she was referred to surgeon Victor Riddell, of Harley Street, who performed radical surgery and saved her life. She was deeply grateful to him.

After their wedding, the Bowker’s set up home in Lancashire before moving to Stratford-upon-Avon. In 1966, they adopted their baby daughter, Diana.

In 1995, Jeanne was awarded an MBE – “her proudest moment” – for more than two decades of service to the Citizens Advice Bureau, a role that had allowed her to meet Princess Anne as well as help thousands of people in need of advice. She retired in 2001.

Daughter, Diana, said: “Mum was always bright and optimistic. She was impulsively generous with time and money towards friends and others in need. She loved having an audience and she would always have a tale to regale her friends with, some tale of how she’d got in a muddle with something. Holding centre stage came naturally to her and she was always entertaining to listen to. You always knew when she was in a room by her voice and the stir she could create.”

An animal lover, she had five Shetland Sheepdogs over the years. She was also against animal cruelty, especially battery farming, and would always ask in restaurants whether the chicken and eggs were free range. She supported many animal charities and campaigns to improve farming methods and was a keen supporter of Avon Cat Rescue at Welford.

She maintained her East Anglian connections, remaining best friends with her childhood friend, Rosemary. The pair had lived directly opposite each other, their bedroom windows facing each other over London Road, and used “tin telephones” strung across the road to talk – until a double-decker bus broke the string.

Mr Bowker died in December 2018, prompting Jeanne to move to Highfield House in Halesworth in late 2019. She died on August 13, 2022, and leaves behind her daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren, cousins, and many friends.

Her funeral was held at Waveney Memorial Park and Crematorium, Ellough, on September 16. Donations to The Norfolk Wherry Trust or Avon Cat Rescue sent c/o Rosedale Funeral Home, Arcadia House, 19 Market Place, Halesworth, IP19 8BB.