Tributes paid to Sheila Stephens, a foster mum, landlady, champion dog breeder, WI stalwart and so much much more

Sheila Stephens from South Molton with one of the many chow chow pups she bred. Picture: ContributedSheila Stephens from South Molton with one of the many chow chow pups she bred. Picture: Contributed

Tributes have been paid to a landlady, foster mum and dog breeder who touched so many lives.

Sheila Stephens from South Molton passed away at North Devon Hospice on Saturday, October 28 aged 82 and after a long illness.

She leaves her husband of 40 years Walter, six children, 13 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Walter said Sheila was incredibly well known in North Devon for the many things she had been involved with throughout her life.

She was landlady of the Mariners Arms pub in Braunton from the late 1960s, as well as president of the Inner Wheel and was heavily involved with Braunton Productions.

Walter ran the his own business ESL in Barnstaple and the couple retired to South Devon for a time, but moved to South Molton in 2000.

Sheila was very prominent in South Molton WI and at county level too, as well as helping Walter with his Rotary Club duties.

Shelia was an internationally-renowned breeder of chow chow dogs, she showed at Crufts and many of the dogs she sold went on to become winners at Crufts – Walter said she had dogs that she’d bred in every continent in the world.

But perhaps her most enduring legacy was the many children she and Walter fostered during their lives together.

He said: “She touched so many lives, both in the animal world and the human world.

“She had a lot of time and a lot of love to give others despite being a very busy woman.

“Our house was always open to youngsters in the Braunton area and if there was somebody in trouble or had fallen out at home, they all came to our place, stayed overnight and I would contact their parents.

“If I had the time all over again, I would not change it for the world.”

Sheila had polio as a child and it left her with many ailments, but she always fought them and carried on regardless.

Sheila has requested no funeral service and her last wish was to donate her body to medical science.

But there will be a celebration of her life at the Coaching Inn, South Molton, on Saturday, November 18 at 2pm, with all who knew her welcome to go along.