Rose Paterson obituary: Grandmother, fundraiser and Aintree Racecourse chairman

Rose Paterson has died at her family home in Shropshire aged 63.

Rose Paterson has died aged 63
Rose Paterson has died aged 63

For 18 years Rose Paterson was the backbone of her husband's office as North Shropshire MP, before moving out from behind the scenes to take on one of the most high profile positions in British sport.

Mrs Paterson, 63, the daughter of the fourth Viscount Ridley, had been married to Owen, MP for North Shropshire, for 40 years.

For nearly two decades she was a central part of her husband's political life.

Following his election in 1997, Mrs Paterson was her husband's Shropshire-based personal assistant and office manager, including during his time at the sharp end of government as Northern Ireland Secretary, and then Minister for the Environment.

That changed in 2014 when she took on the role of chairman of Aintree Racecourse. She stood down from working for her husband the following year.

Rose Paterson at her desk ahead of standing down as her husband's secretary in 2015

The position put her at the head of one of the most well-known racecourses in the world, where the Grand National is watched by hundreds of millions on TV and more than 70,000 in person.

The couple have three adult children, Felix, Ned, and Evie, and lived between Overton and St Martins.

Mrs Paterson was known for her support of local charities, as well as being a passionate supporter of her nearby hospital – the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital and particularly its Horatio's Garden project.

Aside from her role with Aintree, Mrs Paterson also held other key roles locally, as a trustee of the Weston Park Foundation, and prior to taking up her position as her husband's PA she had worked for the famous auction house Sotheby's.

Rose Paterson at Aintree in 2015

She had provided advice and valuations on paintings, specialising in drawings, water colours and oil paintings.

Speaking when she was appointed as chairman of Aintree she described it as a "dream come true" and recounted how she had been interested in horse racing from a young age – even writing a book when she was at school.

She said: “I have always loved racing.

“As a schoolgirl I would run a book on racing and of course I knew more about racing than the others.

“I made quite a killing,” she said. “I still have to pinch myself that I am chairman."

Owen and Rose Paterson during the Mongol Derby in 2011

Before being appointed Aintree chairman, Mrs Paterson had been Racecourse Committee Director at the home since 2005, and was also appointed a Steward of The Jockey Club in 2019 – a key position in the governance of British horse racing.

In 2016 Mrs Paterson's achievements led to her being included in that year's edition of Who’s Who, a biography of influential figures.

Her entry detailed her life story and listed her achievements in a modest 11 lines, one fewer than the 12 line entry of Prime Minister David Cameron, three fewer than the 14 line entries of President Obama.

On the campaign trail in Whitchurch shortly before Owen Paterson was elected in 1997

Away from her professional life in 2011 Mrs Paterson joined her husband for a nine-day 1000km (621 mile) race across Mongolia on horseback following a trail blazed by Genghis Khan.

They endured extreme weather, being set on by a pack of dogs, and Mrs Paterson also survived two tumbles but raised more than £100,000 for charity.

The Royal Irish Regiment Benevolent Fund and the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries both received £53,100 thanks to the couple's efforts.

Mr Paterson later benefited from treatment at the spinal centre at the Orthopaedic Hospital near Oswestry when he broke his back in a fall from a horse.

Mr Paterson described his wife as "a wonderful, caring wife, mother and grandmother."

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