3rd February 1924 to 23rd July 2018
I really only got to know Jean Perree after she moved to Middle Barton in Oxfordshire. I had of course seen her at West Country Concertina Player weekends navigating her way from one workshop to another but we seemed to choose different workshops so contact at first was limited. When I drove to Kilve I went across the Cotswolds to the M5 so it only took a small change of route to go via Middle Barton and collect her and her concertina. We had a two hour journey together and talked of many things including music and rock climbing and mountaineering. She came across as being very knowledgeable on all sorts of subjects and someone who was very adventurous and had a very independent spirit ready to have a go at anything. The subject of mountaineering though took me quite by surprise as when Jean first started climbing girls were generally not seen out on the hills. Later when she moved to Sheffield it took only a short diversion off the M1 to collect her at a McDonalds to go to the Swaledale Squeeze weekends.
Jean Margery Bainton was born the middle of three daughters to Gertrude née Siebert and Percy Bainton. Her education started at the local Sefton Park School and after winning a scholarship she attended Redmaids School in Bristol as a boarder. Redmaids must have meant a great deal to her as she went to “Old Girls” reunions right up to the final year of her life.
After Redmaids she won a Carnegie Scholarship to Edinburgh University to study Social Work. It was whilst at the University that she joined the Mountaineering Club and was one of its first female members. She notably made, along with others, the first winter ascent of the Steall waterfall climb, no mean feat even by today’s standards. In 1947 she clandestinely went to the Isle of Rhum (then privately owned with no public access). The group were ferried over to the island by a local fisherman. She was the only girl amongst seven men, one of whom she became engaged to but never married. She stayed on for a further year at the university to train as a youth leader before returning to Bristol to work for the YWCA.
In 1949 she met and married Frank Perree a divorcee with five children. Together they had three children Margery, Jeanette and Tim but the marriage did not last. She brought up her children single handedly whilst still working and furthering her education. She gained a Certificate of Education at Bristol University and finally became deputy head mistress at a large comprehensive school.
Jean was a talented artist, craftswomen, and cook. She played cricket, swam, was a keen cyclist and went to the gym into her 80s.
Her early love of folk music acquired at Redmaids and Edinburgh University led her to learn to play the English concertina at the age of 60. She became a musician for the Sidmouth Steppers Clog Morris and joined the West Country Concertina Players going to many of the weekend events at Kilve. She joined the ICA in 1989.
Jean was a keen youth hosteller, became a life member, and was the 10th person to join. She later helped to establish the Over 50s YHA group.
Jean loved driving and became an observer for the Advanced Institute of Motorists. She drove nearly all her life even taking her very young children all the way to Scotland from her Somerset home for holidays and on arrival found somewhere to pitch her tent.
Jean had a very full and active life much of it helping other people. She was loved by many and will be greatly missed by all who had the privilege to know her.
The funeral was held at the Grenoside Crematorium near Sheffield. The Civil Celebrant read out Jean’s life story and tributes were made by her three children. Two of her grandchildren each read a poem. After the funeral refreshments were on hand at the Norfolk Arms – a lovely pub overlooking the Derbyshire moors. Amongst the various displays depicting Jean’s life and hobby interests was her concertina. I had the privilege of playing it to accompany her friend on melodeon playing Da Slockit Light, a tune composed by Tom Anderson, a Shetland fiddler.
The club donated a bell, installed at Swaledale, in memory of Jean.