FORMER New Forest District Council chair Christine Ford, who has died aged 82, has been remembered as a popular local politician known for having “a keen eye and a kind heart”.
Christine enjoyed working for many years in broadcasting before becoming the first female mayor of Ringwood when she was elected to the role in 2009 and had a distinguished local authority career.
She served on both New Forest District and Ringwood Town councils for the best part of two decades.
She was first elected to represent the district council’s Ringwood North ward in 2002, spending 17 years on the authority until May 2019. During her time on NFDC she served as consort to chair Cllr Michael Pemberton in 2004/05 and later as chair herself in 2013/14.
Christine headed-up two panels, the environment overview and scrutiny and the environment review, and had been a member of various committees, including general purposes and licensing and the corporate overview and scrutiny panels.
After stepping down from NFDC in March 2019 she spoke to the A&T and referred to her time as chair as “absolutely fantastic”. She said: “It’s because of all the things that go with it.
“You get to encounter a host of people who do good and deserve applause.”
Christine was a mainstay of Ringwood, where she lived, joining the town council a few months before she retired from working life in 1999, and proving a dependable figure until stepping away from civic life in January of this year.
Current NFDC chair Cllr Allan Glass said: “Christine got the ‘top job’ of chairman for 2013/14 and she represented the district with her quiet charm, keen eye and a fantastic sense of humour.
“I remember in particular the hugely successful charity dinner Christine held during her year as chairman, at which she managed to secure Dame Esther Rantzen as the speaker.
“It was such a wonderful evening for all of Christine’s guests and raised vital funds for charity. My thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.”
Christine was originally from Southsea, and father was a gunner in the Royal Navy. Her mother encouraged her to join the Young Conservatives, which she did as the press secretary for Portsmouth South.
On leaving school in 1957, she joined the BBC and worked in radio studios at Bush House.
As voice studio manager, she helped broadcast the General Overseas Service, the North American Service and 42 other services in foreign languages.
In 1962, Christine went to the BBC’s Northern Ireland studios in Belfast and stayed for nine years working on music and drama productions. In 1971, she went back to London and worked at Broadcasting House. She moved to the area after meeting her first husband, but the marriage did not work.
From 1985 to 1987, she helped to launch the Coventry Cable TV station, as transmission supervisor, scheduler and presentation voice-over announcer.
Back in Ringwood, she took a complete change of direction in employment, working as examinations officer at the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic before her retirement.
NFDC leader Cllr Barry Rickman said: “Christine was a very much liked and respected member of this council, with a keen eye and a kind heart.
“I am sure all members and employees, both past and present, who knew and worked with Christine will have very fond memories of her and will sorely miss her. On behalf of the council, its members and employees, I send our very sincere condolences to her family and friends.”
Cllr Rickman added: “I accompanied her on some events and she was such a champion for the New Forest and would light up a room just by walking into it.”