ASHLEY Heath RSPCA campaigner, Jean Reid, has died at the age of 80.

An only child, Jean was born in Bristol and came to Bournemouth with her family in 1946. She studied business and then started work with the National Provincial Bank, which later became the NatWest. Jean worked at many branches and took early retirement when she was a manager in 1990 to concentrate on her charity work.

"After coming across an overturned cow in a ditch in the New Forest in the 1960s, Jean became interested with the work of the RSPCA and before long began to volunteer at Ashley Heath, a shoe-string-budget independent animal shelter owned by a wonderful character called Tilly Carey," said Ian McAllister, one of her relatives.

"The home was struggling to survive but Jean saw a way out. Together with her close friend, Joyce Clement, and a dedicated team of volunteers, she decided to take drastic action. These Friends of Ashley Heath campaigned to raise an initial £150,000 to completely rebuild the home. It took several years of charity fun days, manning stalls at any event they could find, sales of sponsored bricks, and all manner of begging and cajoling but in time the ambitious target was reached."

They realised the money they had raised wasn't enough. Jean then concentrated on the RSPCA organisation itself. After protracted negotiations, the ageing Tilly gave up control, allowing the society to take on the home and fund the rest of the costs. But it wasn't just about money, the Friends had been working on ambitious plans and layouts of how they thought the redesign should look. The RSPCA was impressed and soon after the plans were turned into architect's drawings. Their design for the animal home went on to influence other RSPCA centres. The new Ashley Heath Animal Centre opened in 1991.

"Jean's campaigning skills and true dedication could be utilised nationally, and the society appointed her to the central committee, from where she took to political lobbying. She subsequently served as RSPCA treasurer, although she found that was taking too much of the time she could spend 'doing something useful' in the branches and at Ashley Heath, and vacated that role," said Ian.

Jean and Joyce received multiple honours from the society as two of the most active and influential campaigners of the last 30 years.

Jean passed away suddenly at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital on August 10 after collapsing at home. The previous afternoon she had made her usual drop-in visit to the RSPCA Bournemouth Clinic on Richmond Park Road.

"Right up until the end she maintained a fierce sense of independence, driving her motor home to Avon Beach or Mudeford most evenings to walk her dogs,"said Ian.

Her funeral was due to be held today at Bournemouth Crematorium with donations going to the RSPCA.