TRINA Duncan lived in Midhurst for only eight years, but she became its tireless community champion and the town is reeling from the shock of her death.
She died in St Richard’s Hospital at Chichester, in the early hours of Friday morning, February 27, after an operation.
Her husband David and her family were at her side.
Trina, 66, moved to Midhurst in 2007 with David and together they opened their legendary bed and breakfast business at Lyndale House.
They also quickly became involved in community life.
Trina was the human dynamo behind the MADhurst festival.
She was heavily involved with the parish church and with unrivalled organising skills she arranged endless charity events in the town.
Born in London, she spent her early childhood in Devon with her beloved grandmother and Aunty Peggy.
She married at 18 and gave birth to daughters Nicci and Emma.
The marriage did not last, but in 1979 she met David, who worked in the oil industry and he became her rock.
The couple were married on her birthday, September 24 in 1983 and she joined him in the Netherlands where they provided a family home for Nicci and Emma regularly flying in from school in England.
“Having given up her job in England, she wanted something to do,” said David, “so she trained as a cordon bleu chef and teacher in The Hague and set up her own catering company, ‘Mange Tout’. It was so successful she used to cook for the British ambassador.”
In 1987, David’s job took them to Norway where she set up the Gingerbread House cookery school. “This was also such a success she had to tell the local supermarket what she was demonstrating every week so they could stock up on ingredients.”
Two years later, David’s work brought them back to Cobham where Trina set up the Trina Duncan School of Cookery at her home, using the bespoke demonstration table David had made for her in Norway. She became an active member of the American Women in Surrey group and her cooking skills by this time saw her working alongside well-known chefs including John Torode, Mary Berry, Keith Floyd and Michel Roux.
The couple’s next move was to Bangkok where Trina’s endless supply of energy saw her teaching Thai chefs to cook western food for the increasing number of western families living there.
In 1999, David’s final posting was to Brazil where they lived in Rio.
“It was an absolutely marvellous swansong to my career and Trina started again, this time joining the International Newcomers Club.”
Within a year she was president, organising a host of events. But one of her proudest achievements was her fundraising work with the ‘Casa Jimmy’ charity set up in Brazil by rock star Jimmy Page to support pregnant under-age girls.
The couple retired to Devon in 2002, but Trina was keen to be closer to her daughters and grandchildren, so they moved to Midhurst in 2007.
Trina leaves two daughters, Nicci is married to Huw Worthington and they have two children, Molly and Hugo, and Emma who has four children, Polly, Flora, Joe and Mia.
All of them have enjoyed exciting holidays with their ‘Gran Gran’ and David.
THE MADhurst committee paid tribute to Trina’s work in bringing the community together.
“She was one of its founders, and her vision, energy and wholehearted commitment contributed to its inclusive character and great success.
“Her generous spirit and truly amazing organising ability combined to draw a small cultural festival into the hearts of us all.
“She was the inspiration behind so many events, which she co-ordinated with panache and flair. Her ability to make friends and inspire confidence encouraged a wide range of individuals and organisations to participate.
“We are grateful to have worked with her, and are committed to ensuring her legacy lives on.”
Midhurst Town Council presented Trina and David with a community award in 2012.
Chairman John Etherington said: “Trina made the most wonderful contribution to the town and really put it on the map.
“She worked tirelessly to make MADhurst the success story it is today and she will be sorely missed.”
Steve Morley represented the town council on the founding MADhurst committee.
“Trina was one of the most energetic and inspiring people it was my good fortune to work with,” he said. “Her driving energy was an inspiration.
“Trina took on the practicalities that made the festival possible.
“We have lost a great champion.”