SHE dedicated her life to serving the people of Portsmouth, first as a police officer and then as lord mayor.
And yesterday friends, civic leaders and police came together to remember the remarkable life of Gladys Howard during her funeral.
The widely-respected 100-year-old died last month.
Dozens of people attended the send-off at St George’s Church, in St George’s Square, Portsea, for the first woman police inspector in Portsmouth.
Arriving in a horse-drawn carriage, her casket was draped in the flag of the former Portsmouth City Police – the first person ever to have been granted the honour.
At the service, Gladys was described as a ‘resilient and dutiful woman’ committed to serving her home city.
Friend Gillian Broomfield read a eulogy celebrating Gladys’ life. She said: ‘She was a wonderful, proud, pioneering lady who lived and served the city the best.’
PC Sandy Wyld was one of the many policewomen at the funeral.
She said Gladys’ story was still inspiring new female officers, laying the foundation for women to rise through the ranks.
‘She is the Florence Nightingale of the police,’ she said. ‘She was out there as a pioneer of the force.
‘She was a pathfinder. I really don’t think you can measure how important a role she played. If it wasn’t for her we wouldn’t be here now.’
Gladys was born on December 4, 1916, living in St James’s Street, Portsea.
She joined Portsmouth City Police in 1947, becoming the first female inspector in 1963.
Assistant Chief Constable Scott Chilton, who was at her funeral, said: ‘She has been a shining example of how women can achieve great things. When she joined in 1947 it was a different world. You can imagine what the police service was like and where it is now.
‘So to be the first woman to break through the ranks at that time was a remarkable achievement.’
When she retired in 1976 she moved into a life of politics, becoming a city councillor for 13 years and lord mayor in 1989.
Current Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Ken Ellcome – himself a retired police officer of 30 years’ experience – was at the funeral and said she was ‘incredible’.
Gladys, who died at home in Milton last month, had no children. She was cremated at Portchester Crematorium.