Tireless Bury health campaigner dies aged 93
A BURY health campaigner who was honoured by the Queen for her voluntary work has died at the age of 93.
Throughout her 40 years in the town, Betty Popham was a tireless worker, particularly in the health field, and also fulfilled numerous and separate roles within the voluntary sector which won her admiration and respect from her peers.
Mrs Popham, who lived in West Drive, Seedfield, died peacefully on October 17 after a short battle with cancer.
She had been living with her daughter, Anne, in Reading.
She also leaves three grandchildren Caroline, Nicola and Adam and a great great grandson.
Originally from Oxford, she worked as a nurse, midwife and health visitor before moving to Bury with her late husband Robert.
It was then that she began her voluntary work. Mrs Popham was vice chairman of the former Bury Health Authority and later a Trust member, advising on family planning, a service which she helped introduce to the town.
A campaigner who fought to raise awareness of the dangers of smoking, she was a founder member of ASH (Action on Smoking Health) in Bury and an active member and founder of the town’s Red Cross, where she taught junior members.
She was also founder of the Bury Cancer Support Committee.
Additionally, Mrs Popham was a member of Bury Family Practice, Bury Citizens Advice Bureau, the town’s WRVS Meals on Wheels service and a long time chairman of the Bury Relief and Sickness Group.
Francine Healey, who worked with her on the group, said: “She was absolutely unique, she was so kind and generous.
“She was unafraid to speak out and challenge.”
Mrs Popham’s outstanding voluntary work was recognised when she was awarded the MBE by The Queen in 1992.
And in a further tribute, the breast cancer screening centre at Fairfield Hospital was named The Popham Unit in her honour.
She was also a member of the Bury North Police Community Liaison Panel and the town’s Victim Support and was involved in an archaeological dig at Bury Castle.
Mrs Popham was a parishioner of Bury Parish Church.
Rector of Bury, the Rev John Findon said: “She was extremely practical.
“I suppose you would expect that from a nurse; there was a toughness about her.
“There was real compassion in her too.
“She was just the sort of person who you would want to have on your side.”
Rev Findon’s wife Christa added: “She was a very good person to be around, a great person to talk to about anything.
“She had a lovely sense of humour.”
Mrs Popham’s daughter, Anne, said: “She was very interested in health in Bury and did what she could to promote that in the town.
“On many occasions, she’d be out in the morning, come back for an hour, and then go back out for the afternoon.
“She was an amazing person who had boundless energy.”
n A funeral service will take place at Bury Parish Church on Monday from 2pm.
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