FAMILY, friends and women who had relied on her support came together yesterday to remember the fighter that was Jenni Manners and to celebrate her ongoing legacy.
Jenni, who ran the Swindon Women’s Refuge, had been battling cancer for a number of years, but died on August 25 at the age of 60. Yesterday hundreds packed into Kingsdown Cremato-rium for an emotional service.
She became a huge pillar of strength having become involved with the voluntary group that set up the refuge as a 24-year-old single mother after suffering abuse during her own marriage.
Just a short time later she running it and was regarded nationally as an expert on the subject of domestic violence and rape – often helping the police shape their policy on dealing with the issue.
In his eulogy, her son Simon revealed the extent of her legacy, as her diary had recorded 6,375 women and 9,263 children whose lives she had touched between 1977 and 2008.
Simon said: “This in itself shows how dedicated she was to helping victims of domestic violence.
“Mum had a unique ability to show you the way forward in your time of need, not leading you, but always there in your shadow if ever you needed advice or someone just to listen.
“The relationship my mum and I had was much more than mother and son – she was truly my best friend.”
Her granddaughter Ashlie, who was tearful throughout and also read a poem she had written for her, said: “My nanny is the strongest and bravest person I’ve ever met.
“She was always happy and, most importantly, always there. She was such an amazing person that helped so many people.
“I never understood why she was ill – why her? But once I said to Jen that the reason she was ill was because she was obviously needed upstairs.”
Also among those paying tribute to her yesterday was former deputy chief constable of Wiltshire Police, Steve Long, who said: “Jenny was a fighter.
“She would be the first person I would contact if ever I or the force needed advice or had a problem related to domestic violence.
“She will be remembered for her tireless work to support victims of crime, she will be remembered for the refuge which to this day provides such valuable support and her memory will live on.”
In 1999, Jenni was named the Swindon Advertiser ’s Citizen of the Millennium after she inspired the Allied Dunbar charitable trust’s decision to pour more than £2m into providing and extending women’s refuges elsewhere in the country. Later, in 2003, she received an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honour List.
Donations in her memory can be made to Swindon Women’s Refuge and Prospect Hospice .