Former long-serving Boston Standard journalist Pat Ashberry, who touched the hearts of countless Bostonians over her four decades with the paper, has died at the age of 80.
She died at Pilgrim Hospital on Wednesday after suffering a stroke at her home in Boston on New Year’s Eve.
Born in Blackheath in the West Midlands, she moved to Boston in 1955 to work as a junior reporter on the Lincolnshire Standard.
While staying in ‘digs’ in the town, she met and married her landlady’s son Jeff. They briefly moved to Peterborough but soon returned to Boston and settled in Pilley’s Lane, where they stayed for the rest of their lives.
Pat went back to work at The Standard and remained there until her retirement in 1999, except for a five-year period when she had her three sons Simon, Tim and Jez in the mid-1960s.
Jez, paying tribute to Pat on behalf of the family, said: “It’s been a big shock for us all as Mum was her usual fun and irrepressible self over Christmas. She saw all her sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren at some point over the holiday; looking back it was lovely that she was able to spend those happy days with her close family as normal.
“As a family we would like to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and tributes – the messages have been pouring in. Mum was well known in Boston from her days as a reporter at the Standard, but we also know that she was loved and admired by just about everyone she met. We will miss her terribly.
“We would also like to thank all the staff at the Stroke Unit at Pilgrim Hospital for looking after Mum.”
In the early years she did general reporting, but later became a feature writer as well, and her column known as The Ashberry Angle ran for several years, focusing in particular on interesting and influential women in Boston such as Lyn Ellis, the founder of the cancer charity DOCATEF.
Pat also interviewed national celebrities, including Dad’s Army actor Arnold Ridley and Fleet Street columnist Jean Rook.
Besides her family and her job, Pat’s main interests were reading, singing, researching her family history and baking cakes. She was one of the early members of Boston Operatic Society and was in the ladies’ chorus for many of their productions at Blackfriars in the 60s, 70s and 80s, singing in the alto line-up.
Pat was also in Zion Methodist Church choir during the period she spent in Boston before moving to Peterborough.
The family history research began in the 1990s, and she soon discovered it was completely addictive. She researched both sides of her family, and within a few years, with the help of others also interested in her paternal family, she had got back in a direct line from her dad to her 11th great-grandfather living in the Black Country in 1500.
Pat was a prolific reader and letter-writer, and also enjoyed cross-stitch embroidery and word puzzles.
She loved travelling, especially to Italy, and also days out, which always had to include coffee and cake.
Pat, who also leaves six grandchildren, lost her husband Jeff two years ago, also aged 80.
n Pat’s funeral will be held at Boston Crematorium on January 30 at 1.30pm.