‘OUR HEARTBEAT’, ‘a guiding hand’, and ‘a trailblazer whose generosity knew no bounds’.
These are just some of the many tributes to Jenni Manners, a leading light in supporting victims of domestic violence in Swindon for many years.
Jenni, who was awarded an MBE in 2003, died on August 25 at the age of 60 following a long battle with cancer.
Her colleagues at the Swindon Women’s Refuge have paid tribute to Jenni and said they hoped they would be able to carry on the work she inspired them to do in a manner that would make her proud.
Speaking on behalf of the refuge, services manager Jackie Pennington said: “Without Jenni, the refuge simply would not be where it is today. She was our heartbeat and the guiding hand leading so many victims of domestic violence and abuse into a brighter future.
“Through her tireless efforts the refuge blossomed and over the years Jenni has been a true inspiration and mentor to many of us, residents, committee and staff.
“Without her input, advice, support and wisdom many of us, as individuals, would not be the people we are today. She was able to see the potential in everyone and allowed people space to develop and grow.
“An abiding memory associated with Jenni is Benson her much loved Great Dane. He was, much like Jenni herself, a fearless exterior with a soft centre and heart of gold.
“Jenni’s generosity knew no bounds. She was, most definitely, the most generous person I have ever known. She gave of herself and her time to so many people that she will forever hold a very special place in hundreds, if not thousands, of hearts.
“Jenni was, is and always will be the spirit of Swindon refuge and the guiding light taking us forward.”
Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Evely, the project lead for the National Safeguarding scoping project, also paid tribute to Jenni who she said helped shape Wiltshire Police’s response to domestic violence.
She said: “Jenni Manners was a trailblazer for victims of domestic abuse throughout the 80s and 90s and by challenging us individually and as an organisation, she helped shape Wiltshire Police’s response to one of the most pervasive crimes we deal with.
“I know I speak for a number of our current and previous leaders in saying that it has been a privilege to have worked alongside Jenni. In her we have lost a valued colleague, friend and true champion of those less fortunate than ourselves .
“Jenni’s family and close friends should be rightly proud of her achievements and the legacy she has left behind.”
Councillor Fionuala Foley worked in close contact with Jenni while she was deputy leader of the Council and the Cabinet lead member for reducing domestic violence.
“I found her to be an absolutely fantastic, inspirational women, absolutely dedicated to the cause of combating domestic violence and giving the residents of Swindon support,” she said.
“She was totally committed – an amazing woman. She had a massive impact on the town – you wouldn’t think of the refuge without thinking of Jenni.”
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland said: “Jenni was a remarkable woman who made a huge contribution to the Swindon community.
“She invited me to visit the refuge and see for myself the invaluable work they were doing there in safeguarding and protecting vulnerable people.
“Jenni was rightly awarded the MBE for her work. She will be greatly missed, not only by the many people she helped directly, but by the wider community.”