The word that first comes to mind when thinking of Barbara is “indomitable”. When over 90 and suffering from arthritis and a badly damaged leg among other things, she declared that she was going to book herself into the Grand Hotel at Eastbourne and get herself there by train – and she did. Rejecting all offers of help. lt was typical of how life went for her.
We first met on the Bournemouth Times (later taken over by the Evening Echo). She wrote as Roberta Fearn, on fashion and the social scene active in Bournemouth at the time. She left on the spot when she discovered that her name was being used in an advertising tie-up with a local department store. Hard as it was then – early Fifties – for women to make their way without the right contacts, off she went to London!
She worked on London weeklies before moving into the women’s magazine world, and finally to the Press Association first as fashion writer and later on general news.
After her retirement in the early 1980’s fate took an unkind turn. She was determined to find other work and on her way to an interview was knocked to the ground by one of the “oddbods” who used to frequent Fleet Street. A hip replacement and arthritis resulted. But she continued covering the Paris fashion shows until about 2010 for various publications including some in Australia.
One of her great regrets was that she would not be able to go to Ascot again…
Barbara, a long-time member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, died on July 2, within a whisker of her 95th birthday. She was recognized at Pickering House, Dorking, run by the Journalists Charity, as the character she had always been.
Barbara Hutchinson’s funeral details:
Leatherhead Crematorium, July 24, 3.30pm and afterwards at Pickering House where she had received such excellent and devoted care.