Jean Biddle obituary | Children’s health

My mother, Jean Biddle, who has died aged 95, was an advocate for disabled children and served as superintendent physiotherapist for the London borough of Hounslow.

Born in Bangor, north Wales, Jean was the daughter of Alys (nee Wood) and Eric Hamilton. When Jean was four, her father went from being a mathematics lecturer at Bangor University to principal of Borough Road College, a teacher training institute in Isleworth, west London.

Jean attended Notting Hill and Ealing high school; during these years she became an accomplished ballet dancer and painter, neither of which she pursued. She went on to train as a physiotherapist at Guy’s hospital in London, then worked at the West Middlesex hospital in the late 1950s to early 60s.

While living in the college principal’s house in Isleworth with her parents, Jean had met James Biddle, a mature student at the college. They married in 1949 and retained a long association with Borough Road College, with my father returning to work there and becoming head of the PE department for almost 30 years until his retirement in 1982.

Jean did not particularly enjoy the day-to-day issues of hospital physiotherapy and moved into paediatrics, specialising in children with physical disabilities. In the mid-60s she joined Martindale school in Hounslow, which at the time was a called a school for “physically handicapped” children. She became the head of the in-school physiotherapy department and the borough’s superintendent physiotherapist.

A champion of disabled children, Jean found that her work was appreciated by students and parents. She became heavily involved in the work of the Association of Chartered Paediatric Physiotherapists and was on its national committee from 1976 to 1980.

While living in Isleworth, my parents regularly took golfing holidays to the New Forest, and when my father retired in 1982 they moved to live in Frogham, just outside Fordingbridge, in Hampshire. Jean continued working part-time for another five years, and they both threw themselves into the local community and became involved in fundraising.

For the local Women’s Institute Jean undertook a number of committee roles. She also took lessons in Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) and calligraphy, both of which she excelled at. Her friends looked forward to receiving her Christmas cards, which she handmade utilising her calligraphy skills. My parents were keen golfers and belonged to Bramshaw golf club, where in 1993-94 Jean was captain of the ladies section.

Jean was a strong and determined woman, and after my father died in 2006 she remained in the New Forest, continuing to play golf and support the local community. In 2014, when her health deteriorated, she moved to a care home in east Kent to be closer to me.

She is survived by her sons, Stuart and me, and her grandchildren, Tom, Emily, Jack and Greg, and great-grandchildren, Madeline, Darragh, Hugo and Penelope.

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