Banbury says farewell to an inspirational singing tutor

Jean Bryant NNL-180717-175412009
Jean Bryant NNL-180717-175412009

Jean Bryant, who has died at a local nursing home on Sunday, July 1, was a well-known and respected singing teacher in Banbury.

Jean’s father George Ambridge, worked for the Great Western Railway and moved from Trowbridge in Wiltshire to Banbury, becoming a leading train driver within the Banbury Depot.

George married Ruby and during their many devoted years at the family home in Bloxham Road, Jean was born.

GWR encouraged its employees in sports and the arts and held competitions and tournaments. Jean was a keen singer and won several awards and these early successes laid the foundation for her career.

The railway also created the opportunity to meet people and it was on one such occasion she met her husband, Tony Bryant – a railway enthusiast.

They married, with Tony becoming a senior metallurgist at Alcan, while Jean established herself as a singing teacher.

They adopted two children, a baby boy and girl who went on to have families of their own.

Jean passed on her love of singing to other young women and was rightly proud of students who appeared in West End musicals, shows and other employments including opera.

“Jean inherited her mother Ruby’s love of all things. Jean supported her throughout her later years, with Ruby living to the magnificent age of 102,” said cousin Phillip Marshman.

“Jean and Tony organised a large event when her mother received a telegram from the Queen on her one hundredth birthday with Ruby as the star of the show, surrounded by all her friends and family.

“Jean had the most wonderful singing voice,. We all remember a visit to her, when, despite her failing health, an advert on the television featuring the music of Louie Armstrong’s song What a Wonderful World triggered her to break into song, her voice and melody made everyone in the room stop and listen.

“On a recent visit to Jean where, because of her failing health, she was unable to recognise my brother and I, her eyes lit up when we started talking. Her carer thought that it must have been the sounds of our Wiltshire accents reminding her of happy family visits to us all.

“She wasn’t famous but she was special to us and there are maybe those in Banbury still whose lives she touched. Someone perhaps got to sing on a London stage or sing a solo at an important event all because of her encouragement.”