Chester Zoo founder's daughter June Williams dies aged 88

June Williams Image copyright Chester zoo
Image caption June Williams, who has died at the age of 88

A daughter of Chester Zoo's founder, whose childhood featured in the BBC television drama Our Zoo, has died.

June Williams, the younger of George Mottershead's children, was 88.

Chester Zoo's director-general Mark Pilgrim said news of her death brought "deep sadness" and paid tribute to her work which "cannot be underestimated".

As a child, Mrs Williams was often pictured alongside the zoo's animals in publicity shots for the popular tourist attraction in Cheshire.

She also met her husband Fred Williams, who died in 2012, at the zoo and they helped to build the aquarium.

In 1930, when she was four-and-a-half, her family moved into Oakfield House, near Upton, where they set up the zoo despite some local opposition.

After a short time abroad, they returned to Cheshire and continued to support the zoo's growth.

Image copyright cHESTER zOO
Image caption June Williams often appeared in newspaper pictures promoting Chester Zoo
Image copyright Big Talk/BBC
Image caption Lee Ingleby and Honor Kneafsey played George and June Mottershead in Our Zoo

Her childhood experiences were depicted in the BBC One drama Our Zoo last autumn, in which she was played by Honor Kneafsey.

Mrs Williams was a consultant on the series, which attracted 5.3m viewers, and even had a cameo role with her son George Williams.

"That June was able to see her family's incredible story told through Our Zoo brought her great joy and experiences that she treasured," Mr Pilgrim added.

"We shall miss her and our thoughts and sympathies are with her children, George, Joy and Linda, and her grandchildren, Adam and Emma, of whom we know she was very proud."

Chester Zoo, which is home to about 12,000 animals, attracts 1.4m visitors annually, and has been named the UK's best zoo by users of the travel website TripAdvisor.

A book of condolence will be available for visitors to sign from Saturday.

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