Remembering Royston Conservative pillar and former firewoman June

North East Hertfordshire Conservative Association from left to right: Michael Leach, Brenda Ball, Mark Pendlington, June...

North East Hertfordshire Conservative Association from left to right: Michael Leach, Brenda Ball, Mark Pendlington, June Etheridge, Sir Oliver Heald, John Barrance and Anthony Ward. Picture: NEHCA - Credit: Archant

A prominent figure in the Royston Conservatives has passed away after a short illness.

June Etheridge, who was 94 when she died at Lister Hospital on Saturday, lived in the town for most of her life.

Towards the end of the Second World War she served as a firewoman in Herts Fire and Rescue Service, and even took out refreshments to crews during long fires.

A former chair of the Royston Bench of Magistrates and an important figure in Royston and North Hertfordshire Conservatives, for many years she was President of the Royston Conservative Association and also of Royston Conservative Club.

She was chair of the North Hertfordshire Conservative Association from 1980 to 1983, during which time now North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald was her vice-chair.

They became firm friends and June encouraged him to become a Conservative candidate, She nominated him for the Conservative Party Candidates List, claiming she always wanted the latest news from Westminster.

June was described as approachable, with a sense of humour and as a good conversationalist. In her time as a magistrate June was said to be firm, but she also tried to recognise the problems faced by some defendants and to help them onto a better track in life. She brought her skills as a chair to her work with the Conservatives, where she was “unfailingly polite and courteous while achieving great results”. She oversaw notable projects such as moving the Conservative office from Hitchin to Letchworth and the establishment of the Conservative organisation for the new North Hertfordshire constituency in 1982 after a boundary review. She was also chair for the 1983 election.

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June served on the Eastern Area Council of the Conservatives and the Conservative Women’s Organisation and knew all the leading figures, meeting Margaret Thatcher on many occasions.

Sir Oliver Heald said: “I am sad at the loss of June Etheridge, a friend for almost 40 years. She gave a huge amount of herself to voluntary work, the magistracy and the Conservative Party at local, constituency and regional level. Her many friends in Royston will miss her. She was well-respected across political divisions and I am grateful personally that she set me on the road to Parliament.”