FORMER manager of Cherry Tree Nursery, Jessica Ann Davies, has died at the age of 65.

Born in 1952 Jessica grew up in Banstead, Surrey and following her 'A' levels attended Newnham College, Cambridge to study archaeology. Towards the end of her time at Cambridge she became instrumental in establishing the West Stow Environmental Archaeology Group. The group reconstructed Anglo Saxon dwellings and the results of their work are still present at West Stow Anglo Saxon village today.

Jessica moved around the country doing archaeological work and in 1974 she went to North Uist to dig at the Udal excavations.

Between 1976 and sometime in the 1980s Jessica worked as a shepherd and at various times had flocks in Yorkshire, Wiltshire and the Scottish Borders.

"In the mid to late 80s Jess gave up shepherding to support the women at the Greenham Common Peace Camp. From a very young age Jess had a keen interest in social justice and the interconnectedness of all humanity. Her friendships here led to Jess coming to live permanently in Christchurch. She was given the use of a room in a friend's property and as her parents lived in New Milton she came to visit more regularly," said Jane Nicholls, a friend and colleague at Cherry Tree Nursery in Northbourne.

In Christchurch Jessica worked overseeing job creation projects for vulnerable people unable to gain paid employment. This led to her appointment as manager at Cherry Tree Nursery, the first project of the charity Sheltered Work Opportunities Project ( SWOP ).

"The charity was set up in 1990 to provide meaningful occupation for adults with severe and enduring mental illness on a commercial plant nursery. Jess took a derelict four and a half acre site and a group of people who had struggled in the outside world and created a community and place of safety, where love and the growing of plants restored dignity, meaning and some happiness to almost everyone who came into contact with her. She knew that the world could be a harsh place and she was always determined that Cherry Tree would be special, not just a project for people with mental health problems but a community where care and love for each other could be a beacon of hope for everyone. Over the years that Jess was at Cherry Tree this is exactly what it became," said Jane.

She received several awards for her work at Cherry Tree but never wanted the limelight and always put others before herself. In 2015 Cherry Tree celebrated its 25th anniversary and the following year Jessica stepped down as manager. She will be sorely missed.

Jessica died on May 2 at Fairmile Grange, Christchurch, after a long battle with cancer. Her funeral was held at Hinton Park Woodland Burial Ground on May 26 with donations going to Cherry Tree or Quaker Bolivia Link.