Don't miss a story sign up to the North Devon Gazette's FREE daily newsletter CLICK HERE

Tributes to our wonderful Jean

15:32 31 July 2014

A way with words: Jean Woodhams.

A way with words: Jean Woodhams.


Friends remember a true journalistic queen for whom words were always king.

Jean Woodhams, pictured in December 1961.Jean Woodhams, pictured in December 1961.

TRIBUTES have been paid to former Gazette reporter Jean Woodhams who has died at the age of 84.

The former Fleet Street reporter has been described as a loyal friend and a ‘one off’ by those who knew her.

Whether reporting from an office in London, or from a cramped boiler room in Tuly Street, Barnstaple, it was always words that mattered most to Jean.

As a teenager, she wanted nothing more than to emulate her father Arthur Thain, a racing correspondent on the Scotsman.

After cutting her teeth on the Lewisham Borough News, 18-year-old Jean persuaded the then chief sub-editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post, John Colley, to give her a break in the big league.

John, now 90, said he saw an immediate ‘spark’ when Jean approached him at a village fete and asked for a job.

“I asked her how keen she was to work and she replied ‘I don’t care how hard it is, I want to do it’,” he said.

Jean became the Post’s London correspondent and went on to become the editor of the women’s page during her 20-plus year career at the paper.

Jean and husband John moved to Barnstaple in 1968 to set up their own van hire firm and Jean returned to journalism in the early 80s when she joined the North Devon Gazette.

Dave Tanner, editor at the time, said: “Jean was fiercely loyal to the Gazette.

“Her reports were always accurate and concise – she would never use 10 words if two would do.

“She was probably the most respected journalist in North Devon of her day. Everybody knew that if they told Jean something, she would report it accurately.”

Jean’s reporting helped secure more than £1million for the North Devon District 
Hospital Scanner Appeal, and she was instrumental in the establishment of the North Devon Animal Ambulance.

Jean also helped forge stronger ties with Barnstaple’s twin American town of Barnstable.

After retiring from the newsroom at the age of 70, Jean continued to do her bit for Barnstaple by volunteering at the Shopmobility Centre.

But it was words on the page that were king until the very end.

After striking up a friendship with author Avril Stone, Jean edited six books on local history – working on the latest right up until the day she died.

“Jean shared all her knowledge of writing with me; she was a very loyal friend – a one-off,” said Avril.

Jean requested no funeral but a memorial gathering will be held at the Barnstaple Hotel on Thursday, August 7, from 2.30pm.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other North Devon Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by North Devon Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique North Devon Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Other News Stories

Yesterday, 07:00

Residents fighting new road proposals nominate ‘at risk’ Westacott Meadow

Read more
Saturday, October 22, 2016

Big Barnstaple protest march and rally as thousands show their support for local health services and say: ‘No cuts’

Read more
Saturday, October 22, 2016

Mark Saunders have completed 3,500 mile journey for the See Hear Centre in Barnstaple

Read more
Saturday, October 22, 2016

With Barnstaple & District Cats Protection

Read more
Saturday, October 22, 2016

Market manager says improvements will make the Grade 1 listed building ‘fit for the next 50 years’.

Read more
Saturday, October 22, 2016

Online discount tickets on sale for now Round Table rugby club display

Read more
Friday, October 21, 2016

Will you be joining the big march through the centre of Barnstaple tomorrow (Saturday) to show your support for North Devon’s hospital services?

Read more
Friday, October 21, 2016

The incident was reported at 2.40 this afternoon (Friday).

Read more
Friday, October 21, 2016

Authorities set to investigate a pit that has opened up on a popular riverside walk

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 11°C

min temp: 7°C

Most Read News

Useful Links

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
North Devon Football League
Order Photos
Family notices
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Read the North Devon Gazette e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up


Show Job Lists

Local business directory

North Devon's trusted business finder

Find planning applications