In 1930, aged just four-and-a-half, June, George, mum Lizzie and sister Muriel moved into Oakfield house. From there, in the face of stiff opposition, George’s vision of opening Chester Zoo became a reality.
June helped shape the very fabric of the zoo and indeed, in her younger years, she was the face of the zoo with George using her time and again for publicity shots.
It was also here that June met her husband Fred, who died in 2012. Together, among many achievements, the formidable duo helped build the aquarium, working in the zoo during the day and building at night.
Later, after a short spell abroad, June and Fred returned to live in Upton and remained firm supporters and champions of the zoo.
In 2010, June agreed to the Our Zoo series and, teaming up with the makers Big Talk, she went on to give invaluable support to them as the series developed. June provided the material for the series, engaging with the scriptwriters and acting as a consultant. She became one of the Our Zoo family; incredibly close to the cast, June was welcomed on set with open arms. This culminated in a cameo role and it amused June that she took on the role of one of the zoo’s objectors – a group she and her family had faced opposition from in those very early days.
Despite being in her late 80s June worked tirelessly to carry out numerous TV, magazine, radio and newspaper interviews to drive publicity for the show.
In the Our Zoo book that followed, June told how she had been pleased that the series had enabled her to continue raising the zoo’s profile. Our Zoo, she said, had given her a new lease of life.
Director General Mark Pilgrim said:
There is a deep sadness at the zoo today knowing that we have lost such a great friend. June’s contribution to the zoo, from those early days through to present time, cannot be underestimated.
That June was able to see her family’s incredible story told through Our Zoo brought her great joy and experiences that she treasured. June had remained part of the Chester Zoo family and she was a frequent and welcome visitor. We shall miss her and our thoughts and sympathies are with her children, George, Joy and Linda, and her grandchildren, Adam and Emma, of whom we know she was very proud.
A book of condolence will be available in the main entrance shop from 10am tomorrow (2/5/15) for any visitors who wishes to sign it.