JEAN Vernon-Jackson, who has died aged 87, was one of the New Forest’s leading politicians, but also a figure known across her community in Lymington and Pennington.

As well as serving on three different councils and fighting a general election for the Liberal Democrats, she was known for a wide range of campaigning and voluntary work.

Her parents, Robert and Dorothy Hole, were themselves raised in Lymington, and went on to found its community centre.

Jean was born in Northamptonshire and trained as a nurse at University College Hospital in London after the Second World War. She went on to work as a theatre sister at Lymington Hospital and as a midwife in Christchurch, as well as in Canada.

She married Hugh Vernon Jackson, a Canadian working for the UK Colonial Office in Africa, and the couple married at All Saints Church in Lymington in 1961. They lived in Nigeria, Cameroon and in New York.

In1964, Jean returned to Lymington with her three children but without her husband, to look after her mother. After Dorothy’s death in the mid-1970s, the family moved King’s Saltern Road, where Jean continued to live for many years.

Jean joined the local Young Wives Club and helped start its Tuesday Group; became involved in the Mothers’ Union; chaired the Winchester Diocee’s board of social responsibility; and was a lay reader for Lymington Parish. She would later leave the Anglican church to join the Methodists, unhappy at the way the Church of England saw the role of women.

From 1974, she was a magistrate, and became a member of Hampshire’s probation committee. When she entered politics, she would sometimes find herself knocking on the doors of people she had sent to prison, as well as those who remembered working for her father.

Her political career began in the 1980s, when she won election to Hampshire County Council, and then to New Forest District Council, for the Pennington ward. She served on Lymington and Pennington Town Council. In 1992, she stood as Lib Dem candidate in the very safe Conservative seat of New Forest.

Greatly interested in planning and social services, she chaired the committees that dealt with both, on the district and county councils respectively.

In Lymington, she worked hard to found Lymington’s St Barbe Museum, and was a governor at Lymington Junior and Priestlands Schools, as well as nearby Portfield.

In 1991, Jean was awarded the MBE for services to the people of Lymington, and in 2010 she was made an honorary burgess of the town.

Jean’s three children include Gerald Vernon-Jackson, also a Lib Dem councillor and former leader of Portsmouth City Council. She is also survived by six grandchildren.

A public service will be held on Wednesday, September 20, 12noon, at Lymington Untied Reformed Church on the High Street. Donations will go to Medecins Sans Frontieres, First Opportunities and New Forest Basics Bank.