A FORMER Chester headteacher’s final act of kindness has given a lifeline to a popular disability newspaper.

Last autumn, the All Together NOW! charity announced serious fears for the free paper’s future, due to ongoing production costs and dwindling funding.

However, a former Chester headteacher, Pat (Audrey) Lowe, has provided the charity with hope by naming All Together Now as a beneficiary in her will and leaving £25,000 to support the work of the free disability-focused newspaper.

All Together NOW! editor Tom Dowling, who set up the paper 19 years ago, said: “This is an enormous boost to morale and coffers. While it doesn’t completely get us out of the woods, it certainly gives us hope and should keep us going that extra bit longer.”

Chester and District Standard: Pat Lowe was headteacher at Upton Westlea Primary and Boughton Heath.Pat Lowe was headteacher at Upton Westlea Primary and Boughton Heath. (Image: All Together NOW!)

Pat, who died last year aged 94, was an avid reader of the paper and a friend of Tom’s.

Tom continues: “I first met Pat 50 years ago. As an adventurous teenager, I’d been inspired by her many epic journeys reported in the local newspapers.

“She was not long back from an expedition to Kathmandu that took in a 360-mile mountain trek to the Everest base camp – the very same trip me and my three friends were planning.

Chester and District Standard: Spring cover for All Together NOW!Spring cover for All Together NOW! (Image: All Together NOW!)

“When I told her of our plans, she immediately invited us for tea at her home in Upton, Chester, providing us with trayfuls of scones and guides full of vital information about what lay in store for us.”

Unfortunately, Tom’s roadtrip in 1974 ended tragically on a roadside in Iran. During a dawn attack on the vehicle, two of the four were shot.

Luckily, a bullet in Ken Stokes’s head was successfully removed. But the one that crashed between Tom’s shoulder blades paralysed him from the chest for life.

“For whatever reason, Pat did not hear what happened to us,” said Tom.

“Fast forward 40 years and our paths were to cross again. This time she’d read about All Together NOW!  in an article by the Echo’s former associate editor Walter Huntley – and put two and two together.

“Since then, I’ve spent many more hours with Pat – and scoffed many more of her scones while hearing of her countless travels across China, India, and east Africa, from where she returned with a ‘Crown of Flowers’ presented to those who scaled Mount Kilimanjaro.”

Originally from Darlaston, Wednesbury, in the West Midlands, Pat spent all her teaching career in Cheshire. She was deputy head at Upton Westlea Primary School for 13 years and became the first headteacher at Boughton Heath Primary school in 1975, retiring 12 years later.

When her own health began to deteriorate, she became a devoted fan and supporter of All Together NOW!

Tom added: “Pat constantly reminded me of the importance of the paper: ‘People just don’t realise that even the fittest of us become disabled at some time,’ she’d say. ‘That’s why we can’t afford to lose this newspaper. It is so vital for people like me who are not online. It’s my lifeline.’”

Copies of the spring issue of All Together NOW! Are being delivered to all usual stockists over the next week. If you have trouble getting hold of a copy contact 0151 230 0307.