SALISBURY HISTORY FESTIVAL – VOTES FOR WOMEN.
Welcome to the fifth and final essay on women who have offered a real service to Salisbury. Next week we will be giving a reminder of all five in the series and details on how you can vote for your favourite – who will capture your imagination the most?
LADY JO BENSON
A lifetime dedicated to the betterment of others
Lady Jo Benson was born in ‘Pauls Dene House’, Salisbury in 1929 – a residence where she still resides. She married Sir Christopher Benson on the 4th June 1960.
Jo was Mayor of Salisbury 1969-1970 and it was during her year as Mayor that she instigated the Jo Benson Centre – a day centre that meets the needs of adults with physical disabilities. The Centre was awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2009.
In 1973 Lady Benson was awarded an OBE for her public services which go right back to the 1950s when she became a member of the Cancer Research Campaign. Indeed, her involvement with the organisation led to her becoming President of the Salisbury Branch in 1981and Chairman of the National Appeals Committee in 1982.
The list of activities in which Lady Jo Benson has been involved is remarkable. Director of Salisbury Playhouse Trust from 1968-1992, Salisbury City Almshouse and Welfare Charities as Trustee, Vice Chairman and Chairman from 1956 – 2014, President of the Wiltshire South Girl Guides 1992 – 2009, and the first woman Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club!
Lady Benson has also had a long association with the schools in Salisbury first becoming a Governor of Bishop Wordsworth in 1955 followed by Chafyn Grove School 1968, St. Marks Junior School 1974 and Exeter House Special School in 1976.
Lady Jo Benson’s admiration of Salisbury Cathedral resulted in her becoming the Trustee and Diocesan Appeal Chairman for the Spire Appeal and in 2013, a co-sponsor with the Jerusalem Trust for the commission and installation of the iconic William Pye Font.
A lifetime dedicated to the betterment of others takes true passion and dedication – this is something Lady Jo Benson has given in droves.