Son pays tribute to caring mum

THE son of a Beer shopkeeper who died in a horseriding accident said she lived to make others happy.

Gillian Ashley, 60, was discovered by holidaymakers lying on Paizen Lane , near to her unmounted horse, on Thursday, September 30. She was declared dead at the scene, having suffered a fractured spine.

The grandmother-of-four had moved to Beer from Stoke four years ago with her partner, Bob Chudley, to run the Village Store. They built it up from a loss-maker to a vibrant hub of the community.

Her son Paul Ashley, 35, said: “Mum was all about other people. She was involved with pretty much everything the village did, and was a central part of the community.

“I know its a cliche but she really never had a bad word to say about anyone, and always managed to see the best in people.”

Riding was the love of Gillian’s life, she’d had horses since she was a little girl. While raising Paul and his brothers John, 33, and Christopher, 28, near Southampton, in the same house she was raised in, she kept goats and chickens too.

Strawberry picking brought in extra money during the summer, but, unfortunately, left Gillian’s hands rather rough.

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One of Paul’s most vivid memories of his mum is as a 12-year-old on holiday in Majorca . He’d got sunburnt and she was rubbing lotion into his sore back.

“Her hands were like sandpaper,” he said.

After three boys, Gillian had given up hope of ever having a daughter. So when Paul’s daughter Caroline came along in February this year, she was overjoyed.

“She got to hold the daughter she never had,” said Paul.

Indicative of her caring nature, Gillian moved her now 97-year-old mum Joyce Bastable down to Beer to look after her and helped arrange Paul’s wedding in Beer three years ago.

Navy officer Paul said: “When I thanked her, she said ‘it makes me happy to make you happy’. Family was everything to her. She made the world a better place and it is a tragedy that she was taken.”

Gillian’s funeral is at St Michael’s Church, Beer, on Thursday, October 14 at 12.30pm. All are welcome.