Tributes to 'much-loved' Hebden Bridge swimming teacher, who has died aged 64

Tributes have been offered to a much-loved NHS worker and swimming teacher who died suddenly earlier this month.

Thursday, 24th January 2019, 11:43 am
Updated Thursday, 24th January 2019, 12:48 pm
Jean Racktoo was a much-loved swimming teacher.

Jean Racktoo was a well-known figure in her hometown of Hebden Bridge, where she lived for 37 years with her beloved husband Barry.

She tragically died from a brain haemorrhage on January 3 at the age of 64 and leaves behind three children; twins Amy and Liam, 34, Sophie, 32, step- children Andrew and Angela and three young grandchildren; Pearl, two, Robin-Rose, 10 months, and Ezra, two.

A Leicester and Leeds University graduate who grew up in Baildon, Jean dedicated the majority of her life working for the NHS as a speech and language therapist working at Halifax, Burnley and Airedale hospitals.

Jean Racktoo with dog Pablo.

After leaving the NHS, her passion and talent in the water saw her pursue a career as a swimming teacher, working at Warley Road Primary School where she was adored by the children, parents and staff.

She married Barry in 1985 and will be sadly missed in Hebden Bridge, where their shared walks with cockerpoo Pablo were regularly intercepted by welcome conversations with friends from around the town.

Family from London and Dubai attended her funeral in Elland, which was attended by hundreds. On behalf of the family, Barry said: "We would like to thank everyone who has shared their condolences, attended the funeral and made donations.

"I'd like to issue a special thank you to Warley Road Primary School; the children and staff all wrote the loveliest, special comments about Jean in a memory book which was presented to the family.

Warley Road School have honoured Jean's memory by establishing a swimming award in her name.

"I'd also like to thank the staff at the Intensive Care Unit at Calderdale Hospital, who were incredible in their care and support of the family during their time with Jean.

"The reactions to Jean’s death has been truly overwhelming and showed how loved she was and how many people’s lives she had touched in the area."

An award - The Jean Racktoo Swimming Award - has been established in her honour by staff at Warley Road, and is to be awarded to a child each academic year for their progress in swimming.

Warley Road headteacher Gill Horner said: “Jean was one of these unique people who touched everyone’s hearts.

"The children, staff and parents loved her and remember her for all her kindnesses, fun and her wonderful smile.

"She enriched the lives of so many people with her passion for swimming and love of life. Warley Road was so lucky to have Jean as their swimming teacher for eight years and she will be so badly missed by everyone.”

All donations from Jean's funeral and further donations have been given to the school to fund the award well into the future.