Son’s tribute to Long Sutton fundraiser who gave her life for disabled people

Beryl Maxwell with her two granddaughters, Ella and Chloe. ANL-151231-144546001
Beryl Maxwell with her two granddaughters, Ella and Chloe. ANL-151231-144546001
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A Long Sutton mother who ran a group with her husband for disabled people in the town has died, aged 77.

Beryl Maxwell, co-founder of the Checkmate Club with husband Jack, died peacefully in hospital before Christmas after a short illness.

The couple, who had a son and two granddaughters, started the club in 1972 and dedicated more than 20 years to raising money for the disabled in Long Sutton.

Colin Maxwell (53), Beryl’s son who now lives in Cambridgeshire, said: “Mum was a wonderful, caring person who did so much for so many people.

“Dad was by her side constantly and the work they did for the Checkmate Club was extraordinary.

“They made a huge difference to the lives of so many others, despite the fact that Mum and Dad had to do immense amounts of fundraising to keep things going.”

The club, which met at Long Sutton Royal British Legion, was named after the winning move in a chess game and as a way of describing the problems faced by disabled people.

Before starting the Checkmate Club, Beryl spent eight years living in Scotland and then came back to Long Sutton when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Colin said: “The first meeting of the club was actually held in the dark due to the miners’ strike of 1972 which left Mum, Dad and club members without any electricity.

“Over the years, Mum and Dad did a range of fundraising events for the club which included summer fetes at Long Sutton Athletic Football Club, raffles and 70s and 80s-themed dances with guests like the Wombles.

“Mum bought a bus and converted it so that it could be used by the disabled for trips to the coast and museums.”

Beryl and Jack, who worked at RAF Holbeach, were married for 54 years until his death at the age of 76 in September 2008.

“When Dad passed away, it was a real blow to Mum 
because he was her carer,” Colin added.

“But this also meant the Checkmate Club couldn’t continue as Mum was too ill and a lot of the original members had also mostly gone too, with no one really joining and replacing them.

“Some things are just not meant to last forever but I feel it would be nice if Mum could be remembered for helping so many people and charities, especially within the disabled community.”