"It was a very sad day for Ageing Better in Birmingham, and in particular the Age of Experience group, when we learnt of the passing of one of its members.
Maria Hughes, the LGBT Hub's Network Enabler, pays tribute to Jeraldene:
"Jeraldene was a courageous, forthright and determined woman, who was also kind, generous and warm-hearted.
"I first met Jeraldene at the start of her transition journey, when she was looking for peer support, acceptance and validation. I'm happy to say that she found that with our Birmingham LGBT family, and I was privileged to witness Jeraldene's continued journey towards becoming the woman she always knew she was. Jeraldene was the first community organiser to set up a group with our Ageing Better in Birmingham LGBT Hub, creating a coffee and lunch club that would be welcoming and affirming to lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender people looking for a safe, friendly and supportive group - as Jeraldene understood this need very well herself. Although this wasn't sustainable for the long run, Jeraldene was able to continue her contribution to the Ageing Better programme by becoming a member of the Age of Experience group.
"Jeraldene was a very active member of this group, taking on many roles including membership of the Ageing Better Fund Panel, visiting other groups, and engaging with the media and promotions. She was a lively contributor at Age of Experience group meetings and made many friends. I believe she broke down barriers between the LGBT and heterosexual, and the cisgender and transgender, communities, through her warmth, humour and storytelling.
"Jeraldene and I had some lively, interesting, sometimes difficult conversations. Ultimately, I learned a lot from her life experiences as a working-class person from the Black Country who transitioned in later life, despite many barriers, and whose own unique style blossomed. She was loved, liked and admired by many, including myself, and we will all miss her greatly."
"Jeraldene had been involved in the Age of Experience group for many years and brought to the group humour, realism and a wealth of truly unique life experiences. Never afraid to speak up for herself or others, Jeraldene was a unique lady whose personality and spirit will be greatly missed."
Sam Julius, Community Project Coordinator at Groundwork West Midlands
On behalf of everyone at BVSC, Ageing Better in Birmingham's Programme Director, Stephen Raybould, added:
"This last year has been really hard. One of the challenges of getting older is having to deal with the loss of amazing people, and that's been brought into sharp focus. Over the last five years no one has been more amazing than Jeraldene; she has been the life and soul of the whole programme.
"People leave a different shaped hole in everyone's life when they go; sometimes it's a quiet emptiness, but with Jeraldene her absence will be as loud as her presence. There isn't a room or a conversation she was in that she wasn't at the heart of. Every moment gave her the opportunity to contribute something new, always unpredictably charming and enigmatic. I remember the couple of media appearances I did with her. Normally my trepidation would be around the camera, the microphone or the interviewer, but with Jeraldene I was more concerned about what she might say or ask me! She was brilliantly professional and made a wonderful contribution, but really kept everyone on their toes. It's always sad to say goodbye, but saddest of all when no one shines brighter. We will miss you Jeraldene."
And the final word goes to Jeraldene's fellow Age of Experience members, many of whom also wished to share some thoughts in tribute.
"So sad for the loss of Jeraldene. I haven't known her as long as Ageing Better but we connected a lot; she was my sort of friend who says it as it is. I first met Jeraldene at Spring Forward a few years back and what a character, I just loved her. She would give me the biggest hug every time we met. God bless her, her friendship will be sadly missed."- Nina
"The adjective that comes to mind to describe Jeraldene is 'courageous'. Though born into a man's body, she knew she was really meant to be Jeraldene. In the face of so many difficulties, she had the courage to become the person she felt she was always meant to be. Even when subjected to ignorant comments, she would face the person who uttered them, usually with some well chosen words. A former bus driver, she participated in the Ageing Better campaign to get isolated people out onto the buses whereby they could attend a social event, or just chat with others at the bus stop or on the bus. She really enjoyed coming to the Age of Experience meetings, and expanded more than just one person's understanding of gender dysphoria. A ready volunteer, her contribution will be much missed. My sincere condolences to her family."- Richard
"She was an amazingly brave woman to go through the transition she went through and I think she contributed very well to people's knowledge and understanding of sexual diversity. Always brave enough to speak out."- Barbara
"Thank you so much for being part of Ageing Better and for your volunteer work. You will be missed. God bless your soul. God takes you in his arms and takes you on your journey. Lots of love ♥ and blessing."- Sharda
"Our friend, Jeraldene.
How can anyone describe Jeraldene Dew? Funny, quirky, outgoing, talkative and so down-to-earth! It was a real joy to know her, and she will be much-missed by everyone she touched in life, and I know all you who knew her will agree, she was a one-off!
I was really privileged to have met her and she will not easily be forgotten. Thanls you Jeraldene, for all you have us and Bless You in your new life." - Diane