A FORMER nurse who went on to become one of Hampshire’s best-known politicians has died.

Liberal Democrat Jean Vernon-Jackson, who has died aged 87, was a former county and district councillor who was awarded the MBE for services to the people of Lymington.

She was a member of the town council for years, serving four terms as mayor between 1987 and 2002.

Mrs Vernon-Jackson was also a former chairman of New Forest District Council and chaired the authority’s planning and development control committee in the early 1990s.

When she retired from local government she was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire.

Her son Gerald, a former leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: “Jean was an active and caring councillor who could be contacted at any time - even on Christmas Day.

“She will be remembered as someone who worked tirelessly for others. She was a good friend to many, loyal and generous.”

Mrs Vernon-Jackson’s parents, Robert and Dorothy Hole, helped launch Lymington Community Centre, where she helped out in a variety of roles.

After the Second World War she trained as a nurse in London, later becoming a theatre sister at Lymington Hospital and a midwife in Christchurch.

Following her marriage in 1961 she lived in Nigeria, Cameroon and New York but returned to Lymington in 1964 to look after her mother. She joined the local Young Wives’ group and also helped launch the Tuesday Group, which still meets.

In 1985 she followed in her father’s footsteps by becoming a county councillor for Lymington. She became vice chairman of the authority in 1996 and chairman the following year.

Mrs Vernon-Jackson was also instrumental in the creation of Lymington’s St Barbe Museum, which has recently reopened after a £2 million facelift.

In 2010 she was made an Honorary Burgess of Lymington - an honour similar to being awarded the freedom of the town.

Cllr David Harrison, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the district council, described her as one of Hampshire’s most respected and admired politicians.

He added: “She was a an inspirational community champion in so many ways, helping scores of organisations.”

Lymington town councillor Jack Davies added: “Jean was a force of nature who inspired a generation of people to better their community.

“There was no-one quite like Jean. I don’t think there ever will be.”