Judge Jennifer Kershaw QC, who has died at the age of 61 of cancer, was considered a star on the circuit bench in Leeds.
Senior judiciary saw her as having a safe pair of hands when it came to handling the most difficult and sensitive of cases while her colleagues not only admired her judgements but found her a tonic behind the scenes with a whimsical sense of humour.
After excelling at school she completed a law degree at King’s College, London and was called to the bar in 1974.
She joined No 6 Park Square in Leeds at a time when there were only four other women barristers in the city. In 2002 when she became the head there, she was the first woman to lead a chambers in Leeds.
After a seven-year career break during which her two daughters Lucy and Claire were born in 1983 and 1985, and son Patrick in 1988, she returned to work as a single parent juggling family responsibilities with working.
She built up a formidable reputation on the North Eastern Circuit, regularly instructed in care proceedings and the most serious of criminal cases.
She took the first step on the judicial ladder when she became an assistant recorder in 1996 progressing to recorder in 2000 having taken silk in 1998, and became a circuit judge in 2005.
Colleagues from across the north attended a tribute to her this week at Leeds Crown Court. The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC said: “We hoped that the strength and determination she applied to everything else she had come across and taken on in her life would enable her to see a successful outcome to this new battle. Sadly it was not to be.”
Judge Kershaw had a passion for horses and for several years was secretary of the Yorkshire Side Saddle Association. Last year she qualified for the final of the Regional Dressage Competition.
In 2010 she married fellow circuit judge, Richard Jenkins having met him at a judges’ dinner five years earlier