Posted - May 07, 2011
Jan, who died from a heart attack in November aged 70, was one of Jericho’s most active figures. Born Jeannette Gardner in Oxford, she moved to Paisley but when she was 17 returned to Oxford in the late-1950s with her parents and three sisters. One of her first jobs was as a controller in the fire station. In the evenings she worked as barmaid in the Red Lion. In the mid-1960s she met Jim Needle, then a draughtsman in Cowley but working part-time in the evenings as a stage hand at the New Theatre. They married in 1970 and lived first in Southmoor Road then moved to Great Clarendon Street, and to Canal Street in 1973. Jim, who drew the Jericho Echo masthead, died in 1997. Jan was a leading figure in Jericho, and lately honorary president of the Community Association. After son Jim and daughter Jo started school, Jan returned to work, first in Jones delicatessen, now the Grog Shop, then as a receptionist in the health centre, and finally in the birth registration office. She retired at 63 and pursued her lifelong passion for history, while becoming an enthusiastic ‘silver surfer’. Just before her death she completed a course on the Dark Ages. Around 100 people celebrated Jan’s life in a reception at the Community Centre.