Tributes paid to Keech Hospice founding member and former TV chef from Redbourn

PUBLISHED: 16:03 08 March 2018

Zena Skinner.

Zena Skinner.


Tributes are being paid to one of the founding members of Keech Hospice after her death at the age of 91.

Zena Skinner, from Redbourn, was closely involved in fundraising for the charity from the 1980s, alongside her brother Bruce, who died in March last year, and his wife Mary, who died in September.

As part of the original appeal committee, Zena helped design the catering side of the hospice. Together, over 26 years of fundraising, Zena, Bruce and Mary contributed more than £100,000 to Keech Hospice Care.

Liz Searle, CEO at Keech Hospice, said Zena helped make the charity the leading hospice it is today.

She said: “We are deeply saddened by Zena’s death.

“She was part of a small group of like-minded people who helped to ensure excellent specialist care is available today for adults in Luton and south Bedfordshire and children in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Milton Keynes living with a life-limiting and terminal illness.

“Keech Hospice Care owes Zena an enormous debt of gratitude for all the time, involvement and devotion she has given over several decades, and it was a privilege for us to provide support for her in the final weeks of her life, including celebrating her 91st birthday with her.

“Zena will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her, and our thoughts are with her family at this sad time.”

Together Zena and Bruce started the annual summer fete at Barnfield in Luton, where the hospice is based, which became a popular event within the town and around the wider area.

In the Second World War, Zena served her country in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. She then became a TV chef and presented cookery programmes on the BBC and Channel 4, as well as publishing several recipe books. She appeared as a ‘castaway’ on Desert Island Discs in 1969.

Zena was interviewed in 2012 for the book ‘Tears and Laughter’, which celebrated 21 years of the hospice. She said: “I decided that when I got to 80 years old or had raised £100,000 I would stop, but then we reached both those targets in the same year!

“I don’t really bother about how much we’ve raised. Whatever the figure is, I just think, ‘well they still need more money, so keep at it, girl’.”

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