The family of a much-loved Cheshire community stalwart have paid tribute to a ‘leading light’ and ‘exceptional lady’.
Ann Latham, of Hilbre Bank, Alpraham, who has died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 86, was described by her grandchildren as ‘an axis of village life’ after dedicating five decades of her life to voluntary work and local causes.
Ann was married to Cheshire historian Frank Latham MBE who died last year, and during her lifetime, ran Alpraham’s first youth club and was an ardent campaigner for causes including public health and road safety.
She was extremely popular in the rural Cheshire communities and had been very well known for the spirit and generosity she showed others, since moving to Alpraham from the Wirral in 1965.
Shortly after her arrival, Ann launched a successful crusade for a reduced speed limit on the A51 through Alpraham and played a major role in the campaign which prevented Tarporley Hospital from closure in the late 1970s.
She devoted hundreds of hours to making recordings for blind people from 1977 to 1995 through the Royal National Institute for the Blind’s (RNIB) Express Reading Service in Cheshire, and for more than three decades she worked for the Royal Voluntary Service distributing meals on wheels to Cheshire’s elderly and infirm.
Her home was also the scene of numerous community events, which she personally founded; such as the village fete for 15 years and Liverpool’s League of Welldoers’ annual tea party for the elderly.
Ann’s tireless community work earned her official recognition from the Rotary Club of Tarporley which presented her with a vocational award for ‘outstanding service’ to the community in 1988.
And as a devout Christian, Ann was actively involved in the life of Tilstone Fearnall Church, both as a church warden and an organiser of events such as the annual Harvest Supper and summer luncheons.
Ann was also a long-standing columnist with the Bunbury Journal, and her passion for writing earned her several awards from the Society of Women Writers & Journalists and the International Society of Poets.
She was also a keen tennis player until her early eighties, and an artist whose vibrant paintings were displayed in Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery.
She leaves behind a son Michael, daughter Janet and two granddaughters, Gemma and Sophie.
Janet said: “For someone of small stature with very little feet, she has left huge footprints; I only hope one day I will be able to fill them.
“The intensity of her flame red hair, which age did little to fade, was matched only by her unending energy, spirit, warmth and humility.
“She was a wonderful and caring mother, sister, friend and grandmother to many, many people far beyond our family circle.
“We have been simply overwhelmed by the number of letters, cards and visitors to the house since the news spread of her illness and passing.”
And former vicar Reverend Rick Gates described Ann as his ‘best friend.’
“She was so lovely to me, an amazing lady who supported me through every moment, an honourable and committed friend,” he said.
“I remember complaining about the mice in the church chewing the prayer books.
“I tried to put traps down but she would go bananas and tell us we couldn’t kill the mice; she even made a little mouse-sized kneeler which she placed under the altar to make her point,” he recalled.
Granddaughter Gemma added: “My grandmother was such a special lady who did so many wonderful things for the Cheshire community where she is very highly thought of and loved.”
Ann's funeral will be held at Tilstone Fearnall Church on Tuesday at 2pm.