Town mourns and salutes a great lady

Wigan Mayor Councillor Michael Winstanley with Avril  Fishwick and  John Ashcroft at the official opening of the  new RSPCA Animal centre  in Wigan in 2010

Wigan Mayor Councillor Michael Winstanley with Avril Fishwick and John Ashcroft at the official opening of the new RSPCA Animal centre in Wigan in 2010

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WARM tributes have been paid to one of Wigan’s best loved and respected public figures.

Avril Fishwick, who died this week at the age of 90, led a remarkable, varied and colourful life.

She forged a long career as a prominent Wigan solicitor, but that wasn’t the half of it.

A former chairwoman of Wigan Health Authority and president of Wigan RSPCA, she was a high profile fund-raiser for many causes who served as both Greater Manchester’s High Sheriff and Deputy Lord Lieutenant.

And she worked for military intelligence during the Second World War based at the famous code-breaker centre of Bletchley Park.

The grandmother of four was Wigan born and bred but in recent years had been living in Bowden, Trafford, to be near one of her daughters following the death of her beloved husband Tom.

Her entry in DeBretts shows she attended Woodfield School and then Wigan High School for Girls, and after graduating from Liverpool University was admitted as a solicitor in 1949. She joined the Wigan law firm founded by her father Frank Platt, later to be Platt and Fishwick, becoming partner by 1958.

A member of Wigan and Leigh Hospital Management Committee, Mrs Fishwick went on to chair the Area Health Authority from 1973 to ’82 and was then a member of the North West Regional Health Authority. Other positions included a seat on the NatWest Bank’s advisery board, president of Wigan RSPCA branch from 1974 to 2011 and she sat on the committees of Wigan Civic Trust and Wigan Little Theatre.

She was an honorary member of Soroptimists International and involved in other organisations as varied as The Friends of Drumcroon, the D-Day Normandy Veterans’ Association, Tidy Britain, Rotary and the Scouts.

An OBE, she was presented with HM The Queen Mother’s Birthday Award for Environmental Improvement in 1996, a bronze medal and certificate of meritorious service by the RSPCA; and was made an honorary MA by the University of Manchester. Mrs Fishwick was also a freeman of the borough of Wigan.

She is survived by her daughters Joanna and Hilary and four grandchildren.

RSPCA member and close friend Bill Stubbs said: “Avril contributed considerably to Wigan life in so many ways.

Her involvement in the RSPCA’s work was just one of many strings to her bow and she will be greatly missed. She was a real Trojan.”

Former Wigan Mayor Michael Winstanley said: “Avril was a true lady and a stalwart of Wigan society.

“Wigan life will be much the poorer now and my thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.”

Mrs Fishwick’s funeral will take place at St Mary’s Church, Bowden, at 2pm on Monday, November 10.