Former Lifeboat Guild president Anne Cowan dies aged 90

Anne Cowan receiving her MBE from the Lord Lieutenant at County Hall in Norwich.Photo: Bill SmithCop

Anne Cowan receiving her MBE from the Lord Lieutenant at County Hall in Norwich.Photo: Bill SmithCopy: Stephen PullingerFor: EDP / GYMArchant © 2006(01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2006

A community stalwart who gave decades of her life to serving her adopted home of Gorleston has died aged 90.

Anne Margaret Cowan nee Henry was born in Bushey Heath in Hertfordshire on August 28, 1925, but spent her early life in what is now Pakistan where her father served as a brigadier in the Indian Army. She and her brothers were separated from their parents and they lived with their grandmother in England

She was the eldest of four children with three younger brothers.

In 1944, she began training as a nurse at St Thomas' hospital in London, qualifying in 1947. It was also here that she met her future husband, John Cowan.

They married in 1950 and went on to have three daughters, Sue, now 63, Janet, now 61 and Elizabeth, now 60.

In 1968, the family moved to Middleton Road in Gorleston. Dr Cowan left the RAF and became a GP at the Central Surgery Gorleston and later founded the Falklands Surgery at Bradwell .

Sue Paton, her eldest daughter, said: 'Being a GP's wife, she became quite well-known in the community through answering phones and generally helping out.'

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In 1969, she first became involved with the Gorleston Ladies' Lifeboat Guild, serving as the secretary. She later went on to serve for 13 years as chairman, before becoming the organisation's president.

She devoted decades of her life to the group, staying involved until September 2015, when she moved to Abingdon to live closer to her family in Oxfordshire.

Her services to the RNLI were recognised when she was given the highest honour from the organisation : life governor.

Mrs Cowan also gave her time to the Women's Royal Voluntary Service, and in the 1970s she organised the Meals on Wheels. She was a keen flower arranger and a member of both the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Flower Clubs.

Mrs Paton added: 'She came from a long line of people who did service, so that was just what she did. She was a fantastic organiser and was always so interested in people.

She had a great sense of humour and a great love of life. Through everything she did, she always supported my father in his work'

In 2006, she was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to the community of Great Yarmouth, something she said she was 'thrilled her to bits' .

'She was very proud to have received her MBE, but never let it define her,' said Mrs Paton. 'People in the home she was in during the last year of her life never knew she had it.'

In 2009 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and in 2010, was told she had just six months to live. She took great delight in proving the doctors wrong.

She leaves her three daughters, two grandsons, David, 37 and Andrew, 34 and two great-grandsons, Charlie, aged four, and Jasper, aged two. A third great grandson , Bertie, was born a month after she died.

She died in an Abingdon care home on August 18, 2016, 10 days short of her 91st birthday.

A family funeral was held in Oxfordshire, but a celebration of her life is to be held in Great Yarmouth on October 16. For details contact 01493 664570.

Donations in her memory can be made to Marie Curie Cancer Care at

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