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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

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Obituary - Jill Jones, formerly of Brigham

Tributes have been paid to the former manageress of Workington’s Cumberland Hotel who died last week aged 43.

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Jill Jones

Jill Jones, daughter of Cumberland Hotel owners James and Anne McTear, died at her home in Wiltshire after a long battle with cancer.

Born in Whitehaven in 1968, she initially lived in Brigham and went to school in the village and then to the Friends School in Wigton.

In 1976 Mr McTear’s work took the family, including Mrs Jones’ sister Judith, to live in Dubai, where the girls went into the American school system.

Often they would spend Friday afternoon taking a helicopter owned by his firm out to land on ships.

They later lived in Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Monaco.

Mr McTear said: “Jill always had a huge sense of humour and fun and a huge sense of determination.

“One afternoon she managed to cock her leg over my motorbike – she’d have been about 13 at the time – got her sister on the back and off they went. Unfortunately they fell off.

“When we lived in the Middle East, even when she was 12 or 13, Jill always wanted to fly back on her own, not with her mum and dad. She wanted to prove her capabilities.”

In 1985 the family moved back to West Cumbria and Mrs Jones worked in the family business, and in her 20s she worked as a model for Vidal Sassoon.

In 1993 the family bought the Cumberland Hotel for her to manage. She had ambitions to work for airlines, however.

Mrs Jones was offered a job by British Midland but turned it down because she did not want to leave her mother with the work of running the hotel.

She took time out, travelling in Australia and the Far East, and later decided to try again for airlines.

In 1995 she got a cabin crew role and moved to Slough.

She remained true to her West Cumbrian roots, however, and would often pop home.

Mr McTear said: “After about two years she worked her way up to be cabin service manager.

“The day we announced her death on her Facebook page, there were about 200 replies from everybody from the senior training captain on the airline down to new starters. We never knew that so many people thought so much of her.”

Marrying Captain Martin Jones in 2004, she gave up work when she became mother to Amelia, now six.

The family lived in Wiltshire but continued to visit West Cumbria.

If her parents needed a holiday, Mrs Jones would take over running the hotel.

Mr McTear said: “You could always count on Jill. Her first concern was always others.”

A regular gym goer and member of the local parish church, Mrs Jones was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007.

She was later given the all clear and in 2010 worked with fashion retailer Peacocks to promote a range of clothing in aid of Cancer Research UK’s breast cancer campaign.

Last year, however, doctors found that cancer had returned.

In January 2011 she was told she had 12 months to live but was determined to fight.

Working for an estate agent in recent years, she only stopped when her illness made it impossible to continue.

Her father said she convinced doctors just four days before her death to give her another round of treatment, even though the chance of survival was only 15 per cent.

Mr McTear said: “She never let anything stop what she was doing. She always stuck out as being strong willed and intelligent.”

She had been due to begin that treatment the day she died.

Mrs McTear said: “We have lost a darling, precious daughter.”

Mr McTear added: “She’s seen the world. Everywhere we have gone as a family I have taken them to see the very best and the very worst.

“She fitted a great many things into her 43 years.

“You have to give your kids roots and wings. She’s got her big wings now.”

Mrs Jones’ funeral took place on Tuesday at St Bridget’s Church, Brigham.

Her parents asked that any donations in her memory should go to Help For Heroes, which the hotel supports, in recognition of the heroic way in which their daughter fought her cancer.

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