Elizabeth Whitaker

Mrs Elizabeth Whitaker
Mrs Elizabeth Whitaker
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ELIZABETH Mary Whitaker, who has died aged 90, was West Yorkshire’s first woman high sheriff when she held the position in 1982/83.

Unlike her predecessors, it was up to her to create a suitable uniform in which to appear when performing her duties.

She was awarded the OBE in 1983 for her services as chairman of the Board of Visitors at Wakefield Prison.

That year she ceased serving as a magistrate, having been a JP from 1969.

She had served as deputy chairman of the Bench and chairman of the Juvenile Bench.

After her 25 years, the clerk to the justices wrote: “You have always been a delight to sit with from a Clerk’s point of view.”

The daughter of T N Grimshaw, Wakefield town clerk, she went to Wakefield Girls’ High School where, on account of her looks and her surname she was known as “Pretty Grim”.

She became head girl there, and on leaving school trained as a physiotherapist, working at Pinderfields and the Leeds General Infirmary.

She married Arthur Brian Robinson after he had proposed to her with the words: “Mum says it’s about time we got married.”

Mr Robinson died of cancer in 1956 leaving her with a small son and expecting a second child.

In 1961 she married William Whitaker, consultant cardiologist at Leeds General Infirmary.

She was widowed a second time in 2007, having organised and supervised the care of her husband following a stroke.

It is thought she inherited her sense of public duty from her father, and she did keep herself very busy.

In addition to her work in connection with the Board of Visitors Wakefield Prison, she served as secretary of the Management Committee St Johns Home Training School, as a governor of Wakefield Art Fund and as chairman of the Remedial Gymnastics School at Pinderfields. She was a governor of Queen Elizabeth Grammar School and Wakefield Girls High School for 16 years, and for many years she was a volunteer Beneficiary Visitor for Independent Age.

Her reliability and energy earned trust and respect, but ever self-deprecating, she always worried that despite the pains she went to in order to deliver what she thought was expected of her, she never quite believed she could.

Mrs Whnitaker died at her daughter’s home in Scotland and is survived by her son John and daughter Philippa, stepsons Simon and Tim, 10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.