A WOMAN who served as president of Cowes RNLI Guild and was a resident of the Isle of Wight for 50 years has died in Salisbury District Hospital aged 82.

Elizabeth Margaret Barrett, better known as Elsa, was born on the south coast of Ireland into a large, well connected family which included an MP, a Bishop and an Irish rugby international.

Her father was a leader of the town council and a businessman, on his untimely death her mother founded and ran a popular seaside hotel.

Mrs Barrett went to a boarding school and gained a reputation as a proficient tennis player.

After school she followed older sister Mary to London. Following stints of secretarial work and modelling, she returned to Ireland and met American medical student, Andrew, who was in his final year.

The couple were married and moved to London after Andrew qualified, where their only son, Andrew Peter, was born shortly afterwards.

After working in Dublin, the couple moved to South Africa where Dr Barrett worked in several hospitals and undertook locum work in the Eastern Cape.

It was here Mrs Barrett attained her love for painting which was to become a lifelong passion.

After four years the family relocated to Edinburgh, with Mrs Barrett working in a bistro.

It was in 1969 that the family arrived on the Island, moving to Cowes as Dr Barrett joined Frank Langs practice, subsequently amalgamated into the Cowes Health Service opened by Lord Mountbatten.

Mrs Barrett joined the Cowes RNLI guild and over the next 50 years remained on the committee organising and participating in hundreds of events from coffee mornings to full blown balls at Northwood House.

She became well known to all the business owners on Cowes High Street as they were cheerfully asked to donate raffle prizes.

Even when her husband was unwell in his final few years, as well as looking after him, she continued to man the RNLI shop once a week, driving from the West Wight. She was chairman of the guild twice and elected president over the course of her tenure.

The family moved to Freshwater in later years and as well as maintaining her commitments in Cowes, Mrs Barrett found time to successfully campaign to save Stroud Coppice from development.

Her endeavours led to a ministerial visit from London and confirmation of preservation of ancient woodland.

She also served on the West Wight NSPCC committee and was a keen participant in several painting groups.

As the youngest of seven siblings, she was also the much loved matriarch to 21 nieces and nephews spread across the globe.

Mrs Barrett remained fit and active up to and after an arduous cancer operation in 2020 and was able to stay with her son and grandchildren during lockdown, only going into hospital for the final two days of her life.

She died peacefully with family at her side.

She is survived by son and three much loved grandchildren, Benedict, Minty and Perdy.

The funeral will take place at St Saviours Church, Totland, with Mrs Barrett buried alongside her beloved husband.