Generous Rita raised thousands for charity through decades of fundraising in Potten End

Rita Hodges.
Rita Hodges.

A good-hearted churchgoer who raised tens of thousands of pounds for good causes by running community events has passed away aged 76.

Rita Hodges organised the annual arts and crafts fair in Potten End from 1988 to 1997, raising up to £2,000 a year for Northchurch-based The Hospice of St Francis.

She also started the biennial Potten End Open Day – where 12 or more of the village’s gardens were opened for the public to explore.

The event ran for 20 years, raising more than £35,000 for village organisations – including its scouts, guides, school and church.

She had been a member of All Saints Church in Berkhamsted since 1984 and created the 10-foot-high banner that welcomes everyone as they walk in.

She also created a second 10-foot-high banner to be displayed during the Easter period. It depicts an angel and was made from 1,700 squares of fabric. She made a third to be displayed during Christmas, which has since been lost by the church.

Rita lived with second husband Ray, 83, in Hempstead Lane, Potten End, until her death on Thursday, November 7.

Ray said: “Everybody has said what a lovely woman she was. She was outgoing, certainly helpful, and interested in supporting charities.

“We have still got four charities going that she personally had started up. She was very supportive of the hospice. She was just a lovely person.”

He said other members of Rita’s church have described her as a ‘talented and vibrant person’ of great generosity.

She was diagnosed with muscle fatigue condition ME nine years ago before suffering from a stroke in 2007 and later developing vascular dementia.

Ray, who had been her carer since 2004, said: “The last nine years of her life were very restrictive, but she never complained.”

The only negative thing she said in that time, the day before she died, was: “That was a hard day.”

Until her stroke Rita was a member of Peartree Quilters and led a group called the Woodland Quilters.

She joined the Women’s Institute in the mid-1980s and made a quilt that was raffled for Oxfam.

The couple married in 1986 after they had lived together for three years.

In October this year, they would have lived together in Potten End for 30 years.

Rita also leaves behind two adopted children, two step-children, four grandchildren, and seven step-grandchildren.

Her funeral service will be in All Saints Church at 11.30am on Thursday, November 21. Everyone is welcome.

Ray has asked that no flowers are left, but instead anyone who wishes to should make a donation to The Hospice of St Francis.