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Mrs Doris M Wigmore

06 April 1917 - 16 February 2011

A lifelong Surbiton resident, Doris was educated at Surbiton High School and after a secretarial course, was appointed Secretary to the Headmaster at Kingston Grammar School, a role of which she was immensely proud. When war broke out she volunteered for fireguard duties in the Adelaide Road sector, where she lived with her parents. It was during this time that she met her future husband, Victor Wigmore, the sector controller and a consulting engineer in concrete. In 1943 she volunteered for the army and served in the ATS, where she was quickly promoted to the rank of corporal.

Her lifetime of voluntary service began in 1933, when, at the age of 16, she visited a Home for ex-Service men while on holiday in Worthing. She gained so much pleasure from their pleasure that on her return to Surbiton, she became actively involved with the Kingston and Surbiton (Founder) Branch of the Lest We Forget Association. As an associate member and later as Assistant Honorary Secretary she assisted with and organised outings, visits, parties and even employment for disabled ex-Service men and women.

In the 1950s she began her long association with the Royal British Legion Poppy days in Surbiton and, when it was formed, the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. For many decades she either organised or assisted with the collections.

By now she was known for her enthusiasm and willingness to organise charitable collections and was asked to do so for a number of charities, including the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and  King Georges Fund for Sailors. She also ran the Red Cross Medical Loan Service and was Secretary of the Committee that organised the Annual Summer Ball at the Royal Star and Garter Home in Richmond, thus helping to raise many thousands of pounds for the Home, never imagining that she would eventually benefit from their excellent care and facilities.

In 1960 her interest in animal welfare developed, when she joined the committee of the Kingston upon Thames and district Branch of the RSPCA and it was this area that was to dominate the rest of her life. She became its Honorary Secretary in 1964 and continued in that capacity for over 21 years, working all year round on secretarial duties, fund raising, transporting sick, injured and unwanted animals and running the local clinic. Not only was she responsible for the welfare, protection and survival of thousands of animals, during her long period of service, but she also gave invaluable support and assistance to countless owners for whom their pets meant so much.

In the 1980s she set up her own animal advice line and lost and found service, which not only enabled owners to become reunited with their pets, but through which, Doris was able to provide advice on a wide range of animal-related topics as a result of her vast experience and local knowledge.

Through her work with the RSPCA she developed a close relationship with the Celia Cross Greyhound Trust. Although by now in her late seventies, Doris gave up countless weekends collecting and selling bric-a-brac at fetes and fairs, and organised street collections, thus raising many hundreds of pounds for the charity over the next ten years.

Doris was always immensely proud to be a resident of the Royal Borough, but perhaps her proudest moment came on the 27th April 1993, when she was presented with The Mayor’s Award in recognition of outstanding service to the Royal Borough. Doris Wigmore spent the last eight years of her life as a resident at the Royal Star and Garter Home in Richmond.  Staff remember her as a strong-minded lady with a beautiful smile.

She had a great sense of dignity and was quite a private person, enjoying the tranquillity of her own room with her possessions around her, but her gregarious side also appreciated activities such as the home’s Christmas musical extravaganza. Shortly before her death she was delighted to be presented to the charity’s president, HRH Princess Alexandra, and as an animal-lover she was fascinated by the antics of the K9 freestyle dancing dog display team who entertained the princess.

Few People have given such dedicated and unpaid public service during their lifetimes. She has given freely of her time and energy, raising tens of thousands of pounds for a number of charities and helping countless individuals – and animals – enjoy a better quality of life.