Valerie Joan Jackman MBE (2nd February 1926 – 20th April 2019)     

It is with much sadness that we announce the death of the former chair and president of the BSGA, Joan Jackman MBE. She passed away very peacefully in Priory Court Nursing Home on Easter Saturday, after having suffered a major stroke in January of this year..

She was an unstoppable, vibrant contributor to her village life in Brean, through fund-raising and local council work and enjoyed her daily responsibilities of driving onto the beach to check the warden’s work and sort the regular beach disputes that filled the summer months.

She was also a gymnastics coach, international judge, competitions organizer, mentor, author, Board of Control, and committee member, policy-maker, strategist, head of delegation for many international events. Her home was always an open house and with with her husband Dick, until his death, they entertained many friends. She always had her usual companions of favourite dogs or cats who shared her life and home by the sea.

Having grown up in the Quantocks and Brean area, and then living in the Surrey area, Joan later returned to the region.

It was in the ‘Schools Gymnastics’ arena that Joan made her largest contribution. She had trained as a teacher of physical education and gymnastics had always interested her. She was responsible for the formation of the English Schools Gymnastics Association (ESGA) firstly for boys only and later for both boys and girls. Eventually with the inclusion of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the transition to the British Schools Gymnastic Association occurred. Joan’s contribution with her mixture of irrepressible humour, colourful language and down to earth common sense 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 a part of the Schools Association at local (Somerset and the South West), national (English then British Schools) and international (World Schools Games) levels throughout her life. She was often at the helm of a new award scheme to enable more children to succeed in ever broadening branches of the sport, or developing more interesting competition formats, in She 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. She travelled across the world with and for gymnastics, wearing ‘multiple hats’ and always carried out her responsibilities to the line. Joan was there for British Gymnastics, generous with her time, able to manage challenging situations, offer a considered, objective viewpoint, 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. She continued travelling the country on behalf of British Schools until her late 80s. She loved having visitors and would hold fascinating conversations about anything from politics to the progress of the latest gymnasts on ‘Strictly’, the sand yacht disputes on the beach, or her latest book on Gymnastics, She has written a fascinating book on the history of her Quaker ancestors and also a book on the history of Brean. She retained an interest in the world around her and so enjoyed having her friends around her. She will be sorely missed.

Joan’s funeral service will be on Thursday May 9th at 2pm at Sedgemoor Crematorium just off the A38 towards Bridgwater. The address is Red Lane, Bridgwater, TA6 4SR.

Afterwards there will be a ‘party’ (Joan would want it to be a party!) at Batch Country House, Lympsham, nr Weston-super-Mare, BS24 0EX.

Donations in lieu of flowers to The Stroke Association and can be sent to Burnham Funeral Services, 97 Oxford Street, Burnham-on-Sea, TA8 1EW.

It would be helpful for catering numbers to know if you hope to attend. So please send an email to