MARIE Winefride Maxfield, a business owner, keen gardener and animal lover who lived on the Isle of Wight for more than 50 years, has died at the age of 79.

Born in New Eltham, London, in 1940, she moved to Blackburn with her family to escape the Blitz.

By the time she returned to London after the Second World War, she had acquired a Lancashire accent, although it was soon lost.

Family holidays were spent on the Isle of Wight, resulting in a move across the Solent in 1964 when her parents, Winefride and Ernie Smith, acquired Havenstreet Stores, which she helped to run.

In the early 1970s, she joined Winter's Garage in the village, as a book-keeper, and occupied the post for 25 years.

She met Ray Maxfield, who worked for the Island railway as a fireman on the 02 steam engines, and they married at St Mary's Catholic Church, Ryde, in 1967.

They initially lived in Newport, then moved to Havenstreet. Their only child, Sean, was born in 1968.

In 1984 they moved, within Havenstreet, to Ashell's Mead — a property in a former market garden where plentiful flowers and vegetables were grown.

A change of direction in 2000 saw the couple take a share in a family partnership to buy and run Parkbury Hotel in Sandown.

After four years, they sold the hotel and left the Island for the Forest of Dean. Here they became involved in Severnside Wholesalers, marketing Thomas the Tank Engine merchandise.

In 2007 they relocated the business to the Island when they moved back, firstly to Shanklin, then Binstead.

Mrs Maxfield continued working in the various businesses until the day before she died.

She was known for her Jack Russell dogs.

She leaves her husband, son, sister Barbara and family.

A funeral service was held at the IW Crematorium on February 13.