Celebrating Juanita in Honiton

PUBLISHED: 09:09 16 July 2009 | UPDATED: 23:49 15 June 2010

Juanita Maxwell Phillips welcoming the Devonshire Association to Honiton.

Juanita Maxwell Phillips welcoming the Devonshire Association to Honiton.

Copyright Archant Ltd

AS Honiton Senior Council prepares to celebrate the remarkable life of the late Juanita Maxwell Phillips, a photograph has emerged of the former 11 times mayor hosting an annual meeting of the Devonshire Society.

AS Honiton Senior Council prepares to celebrate the remarkable life of the late Juanita Maxwell Phillips, a photograph has emerged of the former 11 times mayor hosting an annual meeting of the Devonshire Society.

The occasion, which was the society's 78th annual meeting, was held in Honiton and was followed by an evening of "rhyme, song and rhythm" at The Little Theatre, in King Street, which Mrs Phillips owned.

She is pictured at the pavilion in Allhallows Playing Field welcoming Mr G M Doe, the society's president, to Honiton.

Senior council secretary Tony Simpson sourced the picture from a Honiton family, who saved some of Mrs Phillips' scrapbooks when they came up for auction.

Mr Simpson is to give a talk about Juanita's life in September as part of the senior council's Celebrating Seniors programme.

A fascinating, never-before-told story about Mrs Phillips emerged this week.

Although she was the model of decorum at all public engagements and chaired Honiton Borough Council with an even hand, she could, sometimes, be petty - especially if somebody rubbed her up the wrong way. The late Honiton entertainer Bernard Kendall did just that - when he poked fun at Honiton's old fire engine during a comedy sketch in the town.

Mrs Phillips, as always, was sitting in the front row when he told a joke about the appliance breaking down on Gittisham Hill.

Not long afterwards, Mr Kendall's son, Jim, was walking back from Exeter after missing a lift.

He reached Heavitree and was pleased to spot Mrs Phillips' chauffeur-driven car approaching.

The driver, who recognised Jim, now 87, slowed down to stop and give him a lift.

"I saw Mrs Phillips lean forward and tap her chauffeur on the shoulder, and say something," recalled Jim. "Then the car sped up and drove off.

"A few days later, I saw the chauffeur polishing her car in King Street. I asked him why I hadn't been given a lift.

"He told me it was because of my father's sketch about the fire engine."

For further information about the Celebrating Juanita events, watch this space.

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