Alex Timpson is known to many as the wife of businessman John Timpson, but in addition to that general view exists an entire sub-section of the population who know Alex through her tireless work with and for children and her inexhaustible generosity towards others.

As “mentor and soul mate” to John she played a massive role in plotting the future of the Timpson company. In the 1980s it was Alex’s grit and determination that was the critical factor in buying back the family business. She stuck by him as they remortgaged their house twice through hugely stressful times, and encouraged him to create the caring culture that has become such a renowned and integral feature of the company – including a policy of hiring ex-offenders that has reduced their reoffending rate from a national average of 62 per cent to less than five per cent.

In parallel with the growth of their business, was the growth of their family. Having had three children of their own, Alex began fostering – an enormous emotional and energetic journey over 30 years that saw them give homes to 90 children and adopt a further two. In addition, Alex provided support to other foster families and continued to mentor her own brood long after they had left the nest.

“Alex was always a giver not a taker. She was incredibly generous with her time, which she gave in huge dollops to a wide network of people she regarded as part of her extended family,” says John.

“Her greatest skill and passion was caring for children, as a mother to Victoria, James, Edward, Oliver and Henry, a grandmother and real friend to her eight grandchildren, a foster mother of 90 children and often simply as a shoulder for plenty of others to rely on.”

After finishing her fostering career, she still found the energy to become a Home Start Volunteer for the next five years in Crewe. She was meant to be helping struggling families get their show back on the road, but, as ever, ended up breaking all the rules… paying off loan sharks, sending her gardeners over every week to tidy up open spaces in the community, funding family law solicitors to sort out tricky divorces, and buying everyone in every family a Christmas present.

In recognition of her services to children and families Alex Timpson was appointed MBE in 2006.

She went on to take on a number of school governorships, saving one local primary from closure and focusing teachers on children’s happiness rather than government targets – this despite one of her own sons, Edward, becoming an MP!

Determined to find a way to thank his indefatigable wife for all her support and advice through the years, John hit upon the notion of fulfilling a long-held dream of hers: buying her a racehorse.

This fuelled Alex’s passion for racing to the extent that over the next 14 years John found himself funding another 19 racehorses as the couple dived into the often unfathomable world of racing with the humour and resilience that characterised every aspect of their lives.

She continued to follow her horses and her favourite football club Manchester City but finally the cancer became too advanced and in January 2016 she passed away.

“Alex was a truly remarkable woman with a magic touch,” says John. “Many have a lot to thank her for, but I’m the luckiest one of all, having had her by my side for most of my life.”