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Lyme Regis community say farewell to champion Barbara Austin
THE community of Lyme Regis gathered together to say a final farewell to community champion Barbara Austin.
There was standing room only at St Michael’s Parish Church as hundreds of people came together for the funeral of the six-times mayor and mother-of-five.
Mrs Austin, who was deputy mayor three times and volunteered for dozens of community groups, died aged 80 on December 29.
Among the local organisations represented were St Michael’s Primary School, where she was a sponsor governor, Lyme Regis Football Club, of which she was president, and the RNLI, who she supported by volunteering in the lifeboat shop.
Town and district councillors paid their respects to Mrs Austin, who was a popular member of Lyme Regis Town Council for over 20 years.
Also among the civic guests were Deputy Lieutenant of Dorset Minnie Churchill and West Dorset District Council chairman Gillian Summers.
Friends and family were encouraged to remember her with fondness as the opening song was ‘Smile’ by Connie Talbot.
The Rev Jane Skinner, who conducted the service, spoke of Mrs Austin’s exuberance and enthusiasm in life.
She said: “This is a lady of Lyme, bringing out the best of Lyme.”
Philip Evans, a friend of the family, was asked to pay tribute on behalf of Mrs Austin’s five children, nine grandchildren, great-granddaughter, and wider family.
They said: “Many of mum’s friends and family here today have their own memories of Barbara as a councillor or a volunteer in the many organisations she belonged to.
“We would just like to pay tribute to an incredible mother who brought up her family of five in 48 King’s Way with our dad Norman.”
They said she was ‘immensely proud’ of her family, adding: “Thanks mum, from the bottom of our hearts, for always being there for us.”
Mr Evans paid his own tribute, calling her ‘the most popular First Citizen the town has known’.
He talked of Mrs Austin’s childhood, her family and working life, and her commitment to the community.
He said: “Today we honour a life so rich in service.”
This service earned her the MBE in the Queen’s 2010 New Year’s Honours List and the Freedom of the City of London.
Current Mayor Sally Holman described her as a ‘remarkable First Lady of Lyme’, who championed young people, families, and the elderly.
She said: “She would be reassured to know that the things she felt passionate about will be carried forward by our council.”
“I spoke for everyone when I said a light had gone out in the town.”
Town clerk Mike Lewis read a passage marked by Mrs Austin in her own copy of the Gospel of St Luke.
Mourners were encouraged to give donations in her memory to the Over 70s Christmas Lunch and the Christmas Lights Fund, the two organisations that Mrs Austin put most of her efforts into.
The congregation led out to You’ll Never Walk Alone, by Gerry and the Pacemakers.
Mrs Austin was buried in Uplyme with husband Norman.