‘My magnificent mum was always my hero’

Jessie Winyard - Hospital Pride Project
Jessie Winyard - Hospital Pride Project

The daughter of hospital patients’ champion Jessie Winyard, whose funeral takes place today, has paid tribute to her ‘hero’ mother.

Jessie, of Oak Green, Abbots Langley, who would have been 75 on Saturday, was a larger-than-life Londoner with bags of energy and commitment who liked to find solutions and did not bear grudges.

Her daughter, Joanne Port, 42, of De Havilland Way, Abbots Langley, said: “She has always been my hero. We’ve had so many people saying she was their best friend.”

Jessie, who had a double and triple heart operation in 1995, chaired the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust Patients’ Panel after being a founder member in 2003.

Tributes also came from her main clinician for more than 15 years, consultant cardiologist Professor Jaspal Kooner. He said: “Jessie was a shining example of a patient who had a complex cardiac condition.

“She faced cardiac surgery with incredible bravery and courage. On top of this, she put everything she had into support groups and raising awareness, to improve the service and care of other patients”.

West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust director of nursing Natalie Forrest added that Jessie made a “huge contribution” and added: “Jessie will be deeply missed by everyone who knew her in the Trust and her colleagues on the Patients’ Panel.

“She always put 100 per cent into her role and became a much valued ‘critical friend’ of the Trust.

“Her efforts were greatly appreciated. Her tireless hard work made a huge contribution.”

Jessie influenced developments at the trust over the years, and also felt very strongly about privacy and dignity, serving as a dignity champion within the Trust.

In 2007 the Trust awarded her the title of Volunteer of the Year and she was subsequently invited to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party.

Jessie also worked as a volunteer for the British Heart Foundation (BHF), motivated by wanting to give something back to the charity that funded the research that helped save her life.

She ran events and many of the BHF’s publicity campaigns, and even helped to form a local fundraising group. In her own words, this gave her “a new lease of life and many new friends”.

Joanne and her daughter, Kayleigh, 24, will continue working to raise funds for the BHF in memory of Jessie.

The funeral is being held today at West Herts Crematorium from 11.20am. Flowers are welcome and there will be a collection for the BHF.