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Article from Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph dated 2 June 1977 transcribed by Raylee Burton

First Lady of Burton

Photograph of Mrs June Smith as Chairman of the Town Council

Mrs June Smith was well known in Burton Latimer long before she became chairman of the Town Council.

Her husband Jack had a newsagents shop in the High Street and June’s was a familiar face behind the counter for more than 30 years.

Photograph of Mrs June Smith at the newsagents shop
Mrs Smith at the counter of the newsagents shop in 1963

She turned to council work when she was widowed four years ago, “Because,” she says, “I needed something to fill my life, to keep me busy and involved with local people.”

She topped the poll in the Burton Latimer by-election in 1974 and says she has thoroughly enjoyed her local government work since.

She was born in Burton Latimer so she knows the town, its people and problems better than most.

As chairman of the Town Council she is involved in every aspect of local life from Darby and Joan Clubs to playground facilities.

She says simply: “Being in local government means doing the best I can for the people of Burton Latimer.”

Mrs Smith, an Independent councillor, was invested as chairman two weeks ago and her main duty now is to chair the council meetings which take place about once a month.

She is especially happy and proud to be chairman in Jubilee Year and the celebrations present her with special opportunities – to attend jubilee street parties and dances, for example.

Whenever she is invited to a function she always prepares a speech beforehand, if one will be necessary, so that she need not be nervous.

Her first official function as chairman was to attend the St John Ambulance Brigade centenary dance, and her next is a street party where she’ll judge the jubilee hat competition; in the evening she’ll go to a civic service at Rothwell.

Although she is a widow, Mrs Smith need never lack an escort if she wants one to attend a function with her; the deputy chairman is a bachelor, and there are three more bachelors on the council.

Mrs Smith was the only woman elected to the council in 1974; now there are three women councillors. She’s delighted “There’s a woman’s point of view on every issue,” she says, “and it needs to be considered.”

She believes that Burton Latimer has all the essential facilities that finances will allow – she quotes the new fire station, library, health centre, playground and so forth. “I think people who live in Burton Latimer are very fortunate,” she says.

She lives in Queensway with her married daughter and two grandsons, and is an active member of St Mary’s Church and Burton Latimer WRVS ~~Meals on Wheels service.

She also works as a nursing auxillary at St Mary’s Hospital in Kettering, which she finds very rewarding.

Nursing the elderly and working for the council are two worthwhile pursuits which she loves – “I couldn’t do them if I had to push myself” – and which, she says, have helped her to face up to being left alone.

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