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TRIBUTES have been paid by friends and family to Sheila Wilkinson who contributed so much to Melksham over several decades.
Sheila died peacefully on 31st December, aged 90, and a funeral was held on Tuesday 13th January at St. Michael’s Church.
She worked tirelessly for Melksham as a long time councillor, was mayor twice, as well as helping out with many local groups and committees.
The former mayor moved to Sandridge Road in Melksham in 1975 following her husband John’s appointment at Lackham College as a lecturer. Sheila immediately become involved in the town council and was the longest serving councillor before she stood down at the last election. She served as Mayor of Melksham twice, as well as holding roles in many community groups.
For over 30 years Sheila also gave freely of her time and was a governor and chair of governors at Forest and Sandridge School, secretary of the Melksham Gardeners Society, a trustee of the Eleemosynary Charity, a founding member of the Twinning Association, a trustee of the Rainbow Day Centre and a committee member of the Friends of Melksham Hospital to name but a few. She also ran the MCCS in Melksham and helped to raise money for the first community minibus.
Sheila was very proud of her two grandsons Simon and Jonathan the children of her daughter Margaret and her husband David and always looked forward to their visits to Melksham from their home in Hertfordshire.
In November 2002 after 53 years of marriage Sheila’s husband John died following three years of illness. Fortunately Sheila’s son Peter still lived locally and was a great comfort to her in the period following John’s death. When Peter and his wife Sue moved to Wales, Peter continued to work in Wiltshire and was able to stay with his mother during the week. Sadly Sheila’s health began to deteriorate and towards the end of 2013 she moved into the Brookside Residential Home at Melksham, where she celebrated her 90th birthday on 1st April 2014. After a period in hospital in Bath, Sheila was moved to the Wingfield Nursing Home, Trowbridge in December, where she died early on the morning of New Year’s Eve.
Following Sheila’s death, tributes have been paid to a stalwart of the Melksham community.
Alan Weymouth, secretary of Melksham Council of Community Service said, “It was with much sadness that we heard recently of the death of Sheila Wilkinson. Sheila epitomised everything that is good about the spirit and heart of our great little town.
“The number of local groups who have benefited from her involvement is almost unbelievable in an age when we are often apparently all far too busy to become too involved in the various small local projects which when added together make such a real difference to the quality of life for so many people in our community.
“Sheila and her late husband John, who were seemingly inseparable, seemed to be involved in virtually everything good happening in our town and both of them gave so generously of their time and energy, as well as their undoubted dignity, enthusiasm and experience to create and drive many groups and organisations which are often nowadays a little bit taken for granted because they have seemingly been around for so long.”
Christine Purnell from the Rainbow Day Centre said, “I got to know Sheila after she officially opened the Rainbow Day Care Centre 33 years ago. At our first AGM Sheila became Vice-Chairman and remained with us during all those years eventually becoming Chairman. During the formation years. At that time we were only the second Community Day Care Centre in West Wiltshire and we often travelled to other towns and villages around the area sharing our enthusiasm and support for these centres. We could always rely upon Sheila to give fair and unbiased advice but only when asked to do so.
“I would like to publicly record our thanks to Sheila for all she did during the 33 years, for members, staff and in particular in helping me when I was very new to this venture.”
Mayor of Melksham, cllr Terri Welch said, “Sheila worked tirelessly for this town and it is something we can all be grateful for. One of the legacies and memories she leaves is all the daffodils she and her husband planted across the town; this is just one of the many things she did for the town.”