Legacy handed down the decades goes to Portsmouth memorial

DEDICATED Jean Louth has spent 23 years campaigning for a war memorial
DEDICATED Jean Louth has spent 23 years campaigning for a war memorial

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A WILL made 60 years ago by a Southsea fishmonger is to be put to good use to help remember Portsmouth’s war dead.

Jean Louth, who has campaigned for 23 years for a new war memorial to the city’s 3,000 casualties, was stunned to be given the £20,000 boost.

SHOP Former fishmongers in Southsea

SHOP Former fishmongers in Southsea

The cash from John Frederick Hooper’s estate puts her on track to finish the memorial next year.

It will be used to add a further 1,200 names to the £90,000 memorial in Guildhall Square and comes after recent £9,000 pledges from ferry company Wightlink, Mountbatten Centre owners Parkwood Leisure and recycling firm Veolia.

‘After all these years of campaigning, we are almost there,’ said Mrs Louth, of Wakefords Way, West Leigh, Havant.

She added: ‘We still need £30,000 to get every name on the memorial but things are moving very quickly now.’

Mrs Louth, 79, said she ‘can’t wait’ until the name of her father Harry Short, who died at the Battle of Dunkirk in 1940, is added to the plaques.

She said: ‘It’s been 23 years now and we are getting there.

‘I don’t know what I’ll do with the rest of my life when it’s all done.’

The first 600 names were added to the memorial earlier this year.

Now, thanks to the bequest, six more plaques containing 1,200 names are being commissioned and should be in place by next spring.

Mr Hooper was the proprieter of W. H. Hooper and Sons, a company of fishmongers, and dealers in poultry and game which had shops at 32 Great Southsea Street, Southsea, and 31 London Road, North End.

He died in 1952, leaving a long and complex will which was divided between a number of his relatives – the last of which was his niece Joyce Hooper.

In his will, Mr Hooper made provision for the money left to Joyce to be passed on to her children, or failing that, Portsmouth City Council.

Following Joyce’s death last year, the city council inherited the cash and trustees decided to give it to the memorial fund.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the council, said: ‘The bequest from JF Hooper’s estate was certainly an unexpected surprise for the campaign to complete the World War Two memorial in Portsmouth.

‘It seems fitting that part of the estate of someone from Portsmouth who lived through both world wars and died back in 1952 can now be used to ensure servicemen, women and civilians from the city will always be remembered.

‘We still have a substantial amount of money to raise to complete the memorial. I hope more individuals, businesses, schools, and other organisations from the city will be inspired to support this appeal and help us to ensure the names of our fallen heroes are properly commemorated.’