Harpenden horsewoman remembered

HARPENDEN: A farmer has paid tribute to his mother, keen horsewoman Valerie Dickinson, who died last month following a stroke, at the age of 77.

Will Dickinson, of Cross Farm, said his mother, who was born in Harpenden and lived there all her married life, was well-liked and “didn’t have a cross word to say about anybody”.

He went on: “She was always very keen to serve other people and often put other people before herself.”

A good friend to hundreds of horseriders, Mrs Dickinson started a branch of Riding for the Disabled based at Cross Farm and learned sign language to help communicate with riders.

She married Robert Dickinson in 1960 and they had three sons. Mrs Dickinson was widowed 13 years ago and moved to West End Farm at Nomansland in 1998.

As a youngster, she was a Pears soap baby, featuring in advertisements for the product, and she also won the Miss Harpenden title. At 17 she was the lead princess in Iolanthe staged at the Public Hall.

A very keen horsewoman she completed an assistant instructor’s course in Somerset and had a job as a groom in Kent. After her marriage – she met her husband-to-be at a hunt – she and Mr Dickinson lived at Cross Farm, where she worked as both a farmer’s wife and as a mum to the couple’s sons.

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Mrs Dickinson was district commissioner of the East Herts District Pony Club and received an award for services to the organisation.

She is survived by her sons Will, Henry and Charles, and eight grandchildren.