Dedicated Cancer Research stalwart Jill dies aged 77

Salisbury Journal: Jill Abele Jill Abele

FELLOW volunteers have been paying tribute to a Salisbury woman who was a mainstay of cancer research fundraising in the city for decades.

Jill Abele, who died of cancer on Monday at the age of 77, was chairman of the Salisbury branch of Cancer Research UK for 32 years. Mary Cole, senior vice president of the branch said Mrs Abele had been the public face of the charity’s fundraising in the city and was a deeply committed, outgoing and friendly person.

She said: “She had a photographic memory for people and was very gregarious. She would go to any event, no matter how big or small and made friends wherever she went. She seemed to know everyone in Salisbury and was just a very nice woman. I don’t think we had any upsets at all on the committee. She was very tactful and would listen so that any difficulties were resolved amicably. We shall miss her terribly.”

Mrs Abele retired as chairman in October, having led the 20-strong committee and other members of the branch to raise thousands of pounds every year through a wide range of events.

The group holds an annual March fair at the Guildhall, regular street and supermarket collections, quiz nights, raffles and sales.

Her retirement was marked with a party at the home of branch president, Lady Benson.

Mrs Abele became directly involved in fundraising for cancer research in Salisbury 42 years ago, when she joined the committee of what was then the Cancer Research Campaign, following in the footsteps of her mother. Since the branch was formed 63 years ago, it has raised £1.5m.

Besides her commitment to fundraising for cancer research, Mrs Abele, who latterly lived in Stroud Place, was a member of the congregation at St Francis Church in Salisbury and enjoyed the theatre and ballet. She had also been an office-holder in the Salisbury branch of the Conservative party.

Her interests included bridge and she was instrumental in setting up a monthly bridge drive in aid of Cancer Research UK.

Her successor as branch chairman, Yvonne Mills, said: “Jill was very dedicated and worked tirelessly, showing great leadership. We will miss her – she was so well-known in Salisbury.”

Mrs Abele had been diagnosed with lung cancer and underwent surgery for the illness about two years ago, but the disease returned and claimed her life. Her husband Derek died of cancer eight years ago. He had worked in the oil business and the couple lived abroad for a while. The couple had three children.


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