Valerie Joan Jackman MBE - British Gymnastics

Valerie Joan Jackman MBE

Joan Jackman web
We have been saddened to hear of the passing of Joan Jackman MBE. Joan was a huge asset to gymnastics for a number of years in her roles as a gymnastics coach, international judge, competition organiser, mentor, author, Board of Control and committee member. Joan passed away on 20th April.

Joan was part of British Gymnastics’ extended family and enjoyed regular visits from local, national and international gymnastic friends at her home in Somerset. She was an unstoppable, vibrant contributor to her village life through fund-raising and local council work.

It was in school gymnastics that Joan made her largest contribution having trained as a PE teacher, with gymnastics a passion of hers from the off. After spending time in Surrey, Joan returned to Somerset and by the 1960s was teaching at Uphill School in Weston-super-Mare and running an after-school gymnastics club in floor and vault.

Following the introduction of the English Schools Gymnastic Association, George Whitely, John Atkinson and Bob Currier decided to go ahead and bring about the formation of the English Schools Gymnastics Association (ESGA) for boys in floor and vault. An open invitation to interested parties saw the presence of Joan in national schools gymnastics for the first time. From this point it catered for both boys and girls. With the inclusion of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the transition to the British Schools Gymnastic Association occurred. Joan’s contribution soon made an impact which eventually took her to a commanding position in the Association. Her name became synonymous with British Schools Gymnastics.

Joan was part of the Schools Association at local, national and international levels throughout her life and enabled more children to succeed. She also attracted many teachers into gymnastics and authored books that would help them in the process.

Already a national judge by the end of the 1960s, Joan took advantage of Brevet judge training in the early 1970s. Generous with her time and able to manage challenging situations, Joan offered a considered, objective viewpoint, and was a supporter of innovation, and an admirer of the ever improving standards of the British gymnasts.

Joan deservedly collected her MBE from the Queen on 9th June 2004 for her services to British Gymnastics and to her village of Brean and Berrow in Somerset. She continued travelling the country on behalf of British schools until her late 80s.

Jane Allen, CEO British Gymnastics: "When Joan passed away on Easter Saturday, British Gymnastics lost a dear friend and stalwart of gymnastics in the UK. Her contribution to the sport throughout her time is immeasurable. Joan was dynamic in everything she did and was renowned for her incredible energy, strong vision and big heart. She had an enormous impact on the numerous people over the years who were lucky to work with her. The testament to this was the many friends she remained in touch with after her retirement from actively being involved in gymnastics. British Gymnastics and the entire sport in the UK is indebted to Joan for her tireless work in the early years that paved the way for where we are today. In 2004 Joan was awarded the MBE for her contribution to British Gymnastics – a very deserving honour.

"On behalf of the Board, Staff and members of British Gymnastics, we honour this great lady of gymnastics and send our deepest sympathy to her family and friends."

Joan’s funeral will take place on Thursday 9th May at 2pm, firstly at Sedgemoor Crematorium (TA6 4SR) and afterwards (3.30pm) at the Batch Country House (BS24 0EX). 

Anyone wishing to attend Joan’s funeral/wake, could you please email numbers to [email protected] or ring 01934 239154 and leave a message for Tansin and Barry Benn, so that information can be passed on for catering purposes.

With the help of Bob Currier, Jackie Lewis, Lyn Fairbrother, Hazel Malpass, Meg Warren, Tansin Benn and Barry Benn.