Serving professional journalism since 1912

Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

Barbara Hutchinson

Who is this elegant beautiful woman? A glamorous filmstar? A celebrity?

This beautiful fashionable young woman is Chartered Institute of Journalists member, fashion writer and Press Association (PA) stalwart, Barbara Beatrice Hutchinson. Or rather she was, because Barbara died aged 94 on July 2. During her working life for the PA in Fleet Street, and after retirement in the 1980s, Barbara lived in London’s fashionable Kensington. In her posh mansion pad, in Prince Consort Road in the shadow of the Albert Hall, Barbara indulged her love of music. She owned and played a grand piano. Her favourite music was Strauss – he of the romantic Blue Danube.  Always a snappy dresser even in retirement, Barbara continued her career as a freelancer with energy and enthusiasm, jetting off to report fashion shows in Paris for her clients in fashion-conscious Australia.

Devastatingly, dementia took over her mind and made her unable to cope with living alone in a way her immense physical difficulties never had. Barbara was persuaded to leave her beloved Albert Mansions home, which she did reluctantly, for a brief life in care. She moved into Pickering House, the Journalist Charity’s home in Dorking. She had a couple of happy years at the home – her last residence.

Barbara was a bright, special, elegant, admirable, charming, interesting, splendid lady, influential friend and colleague who had many admirers including me. Very independent despite crippling illnesses, she would often say; “Come have lunch at the Victory Services Club. I get to be a member because daddy was a war hero.” Indeed, he was and was severely wounded in World War One at the Battle of the Somme. Ironically, he was saved from a fatal wound by a cigarette case in his pocket!

Once she had retired from the PA and its deadlines, Barbara became an enthusiast of Institute functions. She attended the CIoJ’s 2008 conference in Gibraltar and despite her immobility set about attending all the outings on offer.  At the end of the conference, without making a fuss or speech, unannounced she took a taxi to the Gibraltar airport on her own, paid for it and met us in the departure lounge for the flights home. Barbara did this so as not to inconvenience anyone because of her difficulty getting into and out of coaches with her gammy leg. She could have had a free trip to the airport and joined the group on the CIoJ booked coach. What a considerate lady.

For the Institute’s 2002 conference in Cyprus, Barbara booked herself into  a non CIoJ hotel– cheaper and two or three hotels away from the conference hotel venue. She painfully walked to the  CIoJ conference hotel yet got to all events and on time.

Wartime

Born on July 29, 1920, Barbara was days away from her 95th birthday when she died. She was the only daughter of Colonel Charles Alexander Robert Hutchinson and  wartime nurse Barbara Anne Betsy Allan who met while he was in hospital after being seriously injured in World War One.

During World War One, Col Hutchinson was severely wounded in the Battle of the Somme (1915-16). His pelvis was fractured when a bullet hit a cigarette case in his pocket. He was treated in a guest house turned military hospital in London’s Park Lane, W1, by nurse Barbara Anne Betsy Allan who became  his wife on February 17th 1916 at a society wedding in St George’s, Hanover Sq. After a year convalescence, he returned to the army instructing at the Cadet College in Wellington, India. His pupils were sent to WW1 war zones.

In 1920 not only was Barbara born, but her father retired to fruit farming in South Africa. In 1925 the family returned to the UK and lived in Dorset where Barbara’s father died in 1928 from pneumonia from swimming in Swanage Bay.

Adversity

An example to us all – Barbara never complained in adversity about her crippling illnesses. Always elegant, cheerful, sunny smile, interested in everything especially news despite her advanced years.. Barbara never married, never had children yet had a full and active live. She leaves loving family members. She and her cheerfulness will be sadly missed.

The Institute was represented at Leatherhead crematorium for the Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Barbara Beatrice Hutchinson on July 24  by former PA colleagues and friends, Institute members Vera King and Wyn Freedman and also by CIoJ General Secretary Dominic Cooper.

Wynnette Freedman