Obituary: Janet Watson
Last updated at 11:50, Friday, 05 October 2012
THE owner of Cockermouth’s Squirrels Pantry has died aged 51.
Janet Watson, of Pinfold Close, owned the tearoom at Oakhurst Garden Centre for five years.
She died on September 4 at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.
She was one of four children to be born to parents Bryan and Sylvia Dixon and grew up in Lytham St Annes before moving to Greysouthen when she was eight.
She went to Dean School, followed by the old Derwent School and then Cockermouth School but left uninterested in academia, although it was noted she had excelled in two areas – cooking and art.
She used her love of art to pursue a hobby in photography later on in life, but cookery was her passion and she discovered that it was her real forte.
She went to college in Workington to develop it and passed with distinction in her exams.
Over the following years, Mrs Watson went to work in a number of Cumbria’s hotels, including the Pheasant Inn at Bassenthwaite and The Royal Oak at Keswick.
She also worked in the tea room above Bryson’s in Keswick.
It was while Mrs Watson was waitressing that she met her husband Stuart, when she spotted him in town one day helping organisers set up tents for the Keswick Convention.
They met again in a Keswick pub and got married in Broughton Cross in 1985.
Mr Watson said on their honeymoon in Greece, he bought his new wife a dress, which cost so much that they had to live on yoghurt for the rest of their stay.
On their return to Manchester airport, where they were met by his mum, his Fiat was not big enough for all three of them and the luggage so Mr and Mrs Watson drove home and left Mr Watson’s mum to get the train.
After working in several jobs, including the canteen at Cockermouth factory James Walker and the Squirrels Pantry, which she later owned, the couple decided to combine their love of food and took over the Masons Arms in Gilcrux in 1998.
Mr Watson said it was one of the worst decisions they made as they struggled to make a profit and found that the pub was traditionally a drinker’s pub rather than a foodie one.
Mrs Watson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, but recovered and went on to run the Squirrels Pantry after her friend Susan Southward, who owned the tearoom, decided to step down.
Mr Watson said: “Food was all Janet was interested in and it was all we did.
“She did do some photography but food and cooking was her one great passion in life.
“We were looking at opening our own restaurant and we had ideas about it just before she took over at the Squirrels Pantry.
“That just turned into a really successful business and a lot of people liked the food there.
“It is how Janet got to know the community so well.”
The couple have two children, Bryony, 23, and Bethan, 20.
Bryony said: “She was not just my mother but my best friend and was always there for me no matter what.
“She has the biggest heart and always knew how to make everything seem better. She didn’t care what anyone thought of her. She was who she was and if you didn’t like it then that was tough.
“She changed for no one and I am so proud to call her mum.”
Bethan added: “My mum was the most selfless, caring person I know and she was a big softy.
“I really looked up to her and one day hope to be even the tiniest bit as wonderful as she was. She was a beautiful person.”
Mr Watson said: “She was very loving, generous and pleasant and she always told it how it was.
“The support from the community has been absolutely brilliant and we have had a lot of help from family and friends.”
Her funeral was held at Distington Crematorium.
First published at 11:56, Friday, 28 September 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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RIP Janet, it was lovely to have known you.
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