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Obituary: Sandra Ebbetts – founder and chair of Milford Environment Group

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MILFORD conservation champion Sandra Ebbetts has died at the age of 79.

Remembered for her passion and drive, Sandra was chairman of Milford Environmental Group for nearly two decades after joining with others to undertake extensive clearance of Sharvells Copse following the Great Storm of 1987.

She was also longstanding chair of the New Forest Organ Society.

Sandra Ebbetts
Sandra Ebbetts

Sandra was born in 1942 and grew up in north-west London. She spent some of her early childhood in Norfolk before returning to the capital where she attended grammar school. After finishing her education she worked in a bank.

She had a son, Barry, from her first marriage and after marrying her second husband Roland she became a step-mother to his children, Martin and Tracy.

They later welcomed six grandchildren and a great-granddaughter who Sandra was able meet recently.

In 1986 Sandra and Roland moved to Milford where they became involved in community life. Just a year later, Sandra led a team that came together to clear and replant hundreds of trees blown down at Sharvells Copse during the Great Storm of 1987.

In 1990 Sandra became founder-chair of Milford Environment Group (MEG), which was later instrumental in the creation of the MEG bridge and boardwalk off Blackbush Road and the creation of Dane Stream Pond.

Friends remember she was very good at persuading others to lend a hand – for example, recruiting New Milton Sand and Ballast and a military team based from Marchwood to erect the bridge and boardwalk.

Her friend Keith Metcalf of Milford Conservation Volunteers recalled: “Under Sandra’s leadership MEG won several awards, including the Hampshire Wildlife Trust’s Dutton prize for conservation management and also received certificates from New Forest District Council in recognition of MEG’s outstanding voluntary contribution to local environment work.

“Also in recognition of the work that she and her team masterminded, a tree was planted by the parish council in her honour in her beloved Sharvells Copse.

"However, her greatest achievement and lasting legacy can be seen by visiting Sharvells Copse which is now once more wonderful mixed woodland.”

Her friend Anne Jenks added: “Sandra was full of new ideas and didn’t rest until she had found a way to bring them to fruition – to the benefit of all of us.”

In 2020 Sandra was extremely proud when Milford Conservation Volunteers, which was formed from MEG, received the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

Sandra joined the New Forest Organ Society 28 years ago, and was chair for 26 years. In 1979 the club had 75 members and by 1994 Sandra had increased this to 200, working tirelessly to make the club a success.

In her role as chair she booked organists to play at concerts, organised social events where members could play, arranged day trips, masterminded Christmas get-togethers and led dozens of fundraising events for charities including the air ambulance, Guide Dogs for the Blind and Help for Heroes.

She and Roland travelled extensively during their working life, and then continued to do so in retirement – particularly enjoying cruising in later life. Sandra also enjoyed an active social life and loved playing bridge.

Sandra died on 16th June and a funeral service will take place at New Forest Crematorium in New Milton on Wednesday 6th July at 1pm.

Anyone wishing to donate in her memory can give to Cancer Research UK c/o Tapper Funeral Service in Milford.

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