'Very special' Bilston community hero who spent 50 years improving her estate dies

A dedicated community campaigner and recipient of the Express & Star Local Hero award has died.

Ann Nightingale with her letter telling her of her MBE.
Ann Nightingale with her letter telling her of her MBE.

Ann Nightingale MBE worked tirelessly for 50 years to improve her estate in the Black Country and was even recognised by the Queen for doing so.

After moving to the Lunt estate in Bilston, Ann formed a tenants and residents association and fought for a range of improvements to her community, including saving dozens of houses from the bulldozer, creating youth facilities, and modernising the homes.

The campaigner received her MBE in 2010 for her services to the community and said she was more proud of the improvements she had fought to achieve than any of her previous awards.

She also had three children: Paul; Karl and Diane.

Ann Nightingale at Buckingham Palace receiving her Member of the British Empire (MBE) medal from the Prince of Wales - now King Charles III. Photo: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire.

Speaking of her MBE 13 years ago, Ann said: "It doesn't really feel any different at the moment. I do everything I do because I care about where I live and looking after it.

"Things are actually happening and the area is getting better."

Ann won the Wolverhampton Homes Good Neighbour Award in 2007 and in 2008, she received the Express & Star's Local Hero award for her work improving the Lunt estate.

Dicky Dodd presents an award to Ann Nightingale during the Express & Star's Local Hero Awards at The Molineux, Wolverhampton.
Ann Nightingale, during the Express & Star's Local Hero Awards at The Molineux, Wolverhampton.

After collecting her cheque and personalised front page, the mother of three said: "When I first moved on to the estate, I looked around and saw the dirt and the problems and thought ‘right, if I’m going to raise a family here, things have got to change’.

"We have fought for modernisation of the houses, central heating, new windows – you name it, we’ve done it.

"As long as I’m still here, there is no chance of the Lunt being overlooked."

Councillor Pat Burne presents the Wolverhampton Homes Good Neighbour Award for 2007 to Ann Nightingale from Dartmouth Crescent, Bilston.

The chair of the Lunt Tenants Association, Lunt Home Watch, and Lunt Community Centre also helped Wolverhampton MP Pat McFadden with his campaign to help pensioners keep free TV licences, after plans to reduce entitlement of free licences for the over-75s.

Mr McFadden said: "I am very sad to hear of the death of Ann Nightingale MBE. Ann was a local hero.

"She was a great local leader in the Lunt for many years and was exactly the kind of person who holds a community together.

Ann Nightingale was a tireless campaigner. Here, she is with neighbourhood safety co-ordinator Lisa Parmar and John Goalby of Bilston East Neighbourhood Partnership, standing at the spot where Shane Owoo drowned, as they were getting ready for the big clean up at Bailey's Pool, The Lunt.
Ann Nightingale with an artists impression of Bailey's Pool, The Lunt, Bilston.

"People like Ann prove that there is something more than just our isolated households, that there is a community which looks out for one another and helps one another.

"We have lost someone very special. I am hugely grateful to Ann for all the help and advice she gave me over the years.

"She will be warmly remembered and my deepest condolences go to Ann’s family."

Ian Ramsbottom, whose mother Ann was her best friend for more than 50 years, said: "In each of our lives there are a few stand out people. Most are family that help to shape the person you are.

"Another is Ann Nightingale MBE. Along with all the aforementioned she started the community association on our estate.

"They organised play schemes in the holidays, trips that most kids on the estate would never have gone on without their support, pensioners trips and clubs, anti-poll tax protests, the list goes on.

Ann Nightingale with her Express & Star Local Hero award at the Lunt Community in Bilston with members of the bingo club.

"Everyone on our estate and most of our town knew Ann Nightingale. Most respected her, some feared the tongue lashing she could deliver but to my knowledge she never turned her back to any of them.

"Sadly Ann passed away last night. My thoughts are with her family still here."

She is survived by her husband, Percy.

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