Obituaries

Bedford High School for Girls

Theresa Bentley (nee Finnis 1929 – 1934)

Theresa sadly passed away on 22nd October 2016 at the age of 101. Following school she trained as a nurse at The Middlesex Hospital. When war broke out she enlisted
as a Queen Alexandra Nurse and was sent to Malta, based in a hospital in Valetta, which was being badly bombed at the time. Whilst in Malta, Theresa needed to have her gall bladder removed and was sent back to the UK for it to be performed under general anaesthetic  - Theresa was sent on a troop ship, via the Suez Canal, then to Bombay, around
the Cape of Good Hope, up to the Atlantic (whilst chased by u-boats), eventually landing at Liverpool and making her way to Middlesex. Unfortunately this coincided with the Blitz starting and she had to have the operation by local anaesthetic after all. Later that year she married her husband and in 1943 her twin sons were born, followed by her daughter Janet (BHSg 1957-1963) in 1946.

Theresa’s cousin was Nancy Garrett (1925-1934), with whom she lived with at school, at Burnaby House, where her Uncle Clem was a Housemaster and taught Drama and Rugby at Bedford School.

Dr Sue Sarsfield (née Christmas, BHSg 1947-1957 and former member of staff)

Died in October 2016 in the Airdale nursing home following a brain tumour, aged 77. Sue was both an old girl of BHSg and taught Chemistry there for many years.


After school she read Chemistry and Physiology at Queen Elizabeth College, London. A Postgraduate at Bedford College followed and she was awarded a PhD in Chemistry. Sue returned to BHSg in 1975 as a Chemistry teacher. She also held the positions of Head of Chemistry, Head of Fifth Year and Lower Sixth, as well as being an Examinations
officer. Sue also helped with the Careers Department and the development of the department. She retired in 1999.

Grace Allen (1933-1940)

Grace, a Bedford girl was born in 1922 and died in 2015. After as training as a teacher at Homerton College, Cambridge, she enjoyed a teaching career in music. Later, she joined the staff at what was then the Manchester Teacher Training College until the late 1970’s. 

Whilst at BHS she had organ lessons from Miss M Madden and later in Cambridge from Boris Ord, the Director Music at Kings College.She retired to Perth, Scotland, to be closer to family and died peacefully in a nursing home in St. Andrew’s (From J. M Linnell née Bayes, BHS 1950-1955, cousin of Grace).

 

Catherine (Cat) Jary (née Bassill 1975-1986)

Sadly Cat died in a tragic accident at home in Spain in July 2016. Cat was a professional cellist and teacher of the Alexander Technique, opening the Alexander Music School in 2003. She was a well known member of the local community in the mountain village of Ferreirola where she lived, and had launched a popular annual music festival, Música en las Montañas, an independent altruistic Festival where international and local musicians, choirs and orchestras collaborate with small local businesses and the villagers in la Alpujarra to provide free concerts in an attempt to stimulate culture, tourism, and revitalise the local economy.

A musical celebration of Cat's life will be held in Ferreirola, Spain, on Saturday 17th September 2016 at 8.00pm. Details to follow.

Sallie Georgina Saunders (née Blundell 1957-1965)

Sallie passed away peacefully on 21st June 2016. Wife of Julian and mother to Julian, Edward, Fiona (BHS 1995) and Olivia (BHS 2000). 

 

Sara Juliet Salisbury CBE (née Sally Hands, BHS Quantocks 1940-1952)

Younger daughter of Doris and Howard G Hands MC of Letchworth, and sister of Mary (also ex-BHS 1937-1946). Passed away last September (2015) aged 82 after a long, brave struggle with Alzheimer's. Always a loving and gentle wife, mother and granny; and a tireless supporter of many worthy public causes.


Audrey Disbury (1942-1951)

Audrey was a day girl and boarder in the late 1940’s and went on to be a prominent member of womens cricket, playing for England and touring with their international team for many years. She BHS a few years ago as part of a celebration to recognise international sportswomen who were past pupils. Audrey died aged 82, on Friday 17 June 2016 and her funeral will be held at Charing Crematorium, Ashford, Kent on Friday 22 July at 2pm.  

 

Quote from The Times Obituary - 'As a bowler, Audrey Disbury was not known for her speed. Her occasional off breaks were, indeed, so slow and well flighted that her England team-mates would joke that she almost had time to rush down the wicket and catch them if she wasn’t satisfied with the delivery. Fortunately it was for her batting that “Dis”, as she was known, was always selected. She was a hard-hitting opener who had a characteristic way of holding her pose for a few seconds after playing one of her solid forward defensives.

(Elizabeth) Jean Callander (1939-1949)

Jean passed away very peacefully on 15th January 2016, aged 85. jean was a twin to Pat who died in 2005. they were born in Zanzibar and moved to Bedford around 1938. They both attended Bedford High School as day pupils and then qualified as Nightingale Nurses at St. Thomas in London. In 1967 they relocated to Carryduff near Belfast and Jean worked in Lisburn and Pat in Newtownards. After retiring they continued to live in Carryduff for the rest of their lives. 

 

Doyin (Dupe) Fagbenro (2004-2009)
Doyin tragically died on 13th January 2016 following a car crash in Nigeria. Doyin was a student at both of the heritage schools, studying firstly at Dame Alice (2004-2007) and Bedford Girls’ School (2007-2009). Doyin went on to read Law Queen Mary University. Doyin had been working as an Executive Assistant to the COO, Dixoil Offshore in Nigeria.

 

Rhona Lakin (nee Burnett, BHS Quantocks 1931-1937)
Passed away October 2015 aged 96.  Mother of Alison Lakin (BHS 1969-74 Quantocks), Aunt of Helen Medlam (nee Burnett, BHS Quantocks - Head of House 1960-1966), and of Pamela Bell (BHS Quantocks 1957-1961).

 

Rita Milito (former staff member)

Rita died suddenly in June 2015 aged 51. Rita was born on 10thDecember 1964 worked as a Receptionist at the High School for 10 years. Rita will be remembered for her warm, witty and generous personality, and everyone from staff to parents to students felt at ease in her company. Rita leaves behind her husband Luciano.

 

Carol Muller (nee Preston, BHS Westlands 1951-1958)

Carol was born on 22nd December 1939 and sadly passed away on 24th June 2015. Carol was a Westlands boarder and keen lacrosse player. Her sisters, Judy (BHS Grange) and Diana (Westlands) also attended the High School. Following BHS Carol moved to Canada to study nursing.  Later Carol married and settled in Bega, New South Wales where she became a farmer's wife and also achieved her private pilot's licence.

Margaret Panter (nee Taylor, BHS 1929-1936) and Audrey Munford (nee Taylor, BHS 1932-1937)
Margaret Panter born on 28th June 1919 died on 2nd March 2015 following a long illness. Margaret always spoke fondly of her time at Bedford High School, and had a particular fondness for languages. Margaret's sister Audrey Munford (nee Taylor), BHS 1932-1937, also sadly passed away on 26th January 2007.

Margaret, worked for the Ministry of Transport in Bedford until 1949 when she got married to John Panter (d.1990) who attended the Bedford Modern School for Boys. Margaret is survived by 2 daughters and 4 grandchildren.

Audrey married Dennis Munford (d. 2002) in 1943 and after WW2 they lived in Aden (now Yemen) until 1966 when they returned to England. Audrey and Dennis had no children.

June Annette Smith (formerly Phipps, née Bell, Quantocks 1939-1943)

June passed away in February 2015 at the age of 88. Mum attended Bedford High School as a boarder from 1939-1943. She always spoke very fondly of her school years and especially of Miss Thomas, who was The Quantocks House Mistress at the time. On leaving school Mum studied Drama in Rugby before joining the Birmingham Repertory Company. During this time she became a member of the ENSA group entertaining troops overseas. In 1950 she married John Phipps, a pilot in the RAF, and they had three children Mum very much enjoyed air force life with its travel and social engagements but this tragically came to an end in 1965 with the sudden death of my father. Mum moved to West Sussex, a part of the country she had always loved, and began the next phase of her life establishing a very successful coffee shop and bringing up three young children. In 1976 Mum married Dr Doug Smith (Big D as he was known amongst the rugby fraternity) and they had some 20 good years together before he died after a long illness. Mum was always enthusiastically engaged in life - hours spent walking with her dogs, playing 'real' tennis, the theatre always and the social world of family and friends. Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2010 but thanks to the loving care of my brother and sister, was able to stay in her own home until the end. As my brother said in his eulogy, 'I am so grateful that in the last year or so, even though her ability to communicate was minimal, she seemed genuinely more at ease, often laughing, with a smile being her default expression'. Submitted by Sarah Phipps (1966-1971).

 

Margaret Hodgson (née Joyce, BHS 1934 - 1939)

Passed away on 16th September 2014, following a short illness.

Margaret Hartley (née Prigmore, BHS 1944-1955)

Born May 1937, died September 2014

Heather Quinlan (née Baxter, 1950-1954) and Kyra Image (1947-1956)

Born 7th July 1935, who died 19th July 2014, after a courageous battle with cancer touched so many of our lives.  With typical resiliance and sheer joy of life Heather kept going over these last two years, because one of her sons sent his son, Sebastian to live with his beloved Gran to attend an excellant 6th Form College situated close to Heather - to study and take his A Levels. Naturally being Heather, a truly dedicated Mum, Gran and teacher, she devoted this time to making sure Seb was up in time to catch the bus for college, having had a good breakfast and then home to a nourishing supper! She made it but clearly she will have learnt of his results in Heaven.  Happily my husband, Dave, drove us to Heather's Requiem Mass which took place in Hadleigh, Suffolk - thank goodness for Sat Nav - and there two more of the Hilbre Grange sisterhood Janet Clemo (née Pullen) and Judith Church (née Bell) were among an enormous congregation of family, friends and colleagues.  I am reminded by Candy Godber (née Parrish) that with the death this year of Kyra Image (1947-1956), that we must all stick together for our numbers are becoming seriously depleted.  Kyra's service took place in Eastbourne and our most loved Joan Gibson, together with Judith Church and Jill Rawlinson (née Wesley), represented our little band.  Hurrah for The Guild and our fantastic welcome this May 2014 at Bedford Girls' School.  Submitted by Sandy Hebblethwaite (nee White, 1948-1956).


Penelope Bain (former staff 1954-1988)

Pen joined the school in 1954 in the Languages Department. She went on to become Head of French.  On retirement pen moved back to Scotland. Pen died on 12 June
2014.

 

Anne Klar (née Sykes, 1944-1952)

Dearly loved wife of Stanley, died in June 2014.

 

Margaret Beechener (née Strange, BHS Quantocks 1943-1951)

Died 15th March 2014, aged 90

Gillian Rose (nee King formerly Garman, BHS 1953-1963)

Sadly died March 2014, aged 67. Gillian was also a former governor of Bedford High School.

 

Janet Hoare (nee Godfrey, BHS 1948-1956)

Sadly died 1st March 2014 aged 74 years

 

Margery Bevan (nee Daniel, BHS 1928 - 1934)

Margery was born in Kent on 23rd December 1916 but moved with her family to Bedford in about 1924.   The family were well known in Bedford with their house in Park Avenue having a grass tennis court on which many of her contemporaries were invited to play, and indeed she herself played at Junior Wimbledon and her brother John won the Boys Doubles there. In 1938 she married Owen Bevan, a school master at Bedford School and they went on to have 4 children, Catherine (High School circa 1946 - 1956) and Philippa (1952-62), and sons Simon and Michael. In 1945 they moved into Burnaby House, a boarding house for Bedford School where they spent 15 years with Margery taking on virtually all the jobs that entailed at one time or another.  As there was also a tennis court there many High School boarders and boys from the school or house came to play tennis on summer Sunday afternoons.  She also played tennis for Bedfordshire and when her arm succumbed to tennis elbow continued with her golf, becoming Lady Captain at the Bedfordshire Golf Club and also County Champion. On Owen's retirement to Sheringham in 1973 she continued with the golf and became Lady Captain at Sheringham and subsequently ladies secretary/handicap secretary for many years, bashing out the notices on an old manual typewriter. Owen died in 2004 and Catherine in 2005 but Margery continued on in her home playing lots of bridge, golf having had to be abandoned when she fell off her bicycle and broke her hip aged 85! She finally gave in to pressure from the family and moved into a residential home in 2012 where she managed to continue with her bridge-playing until just before Christmas in 2013 which she enjoyed with Simon and his family. In the New Year she complained of feeling unwell and after a couple of days in hospital she was transferred to a nursing home in Sheringham, but died a few days later on 2nd February 2014, aged 97 years.   

             

Brunker Family

Frankie Brunker (née Mochan, Bedford High  School 1993-2001) delivered her first child, baby girl Esme, on 23 September 2013. Sadly, Esme was stillborn at full-term, with no reason given for her death. She was 7lb 1oz of perfection, and Frankie and her husband Mark will always love and miss their beautiful daughter. More than £5,000 has been donated in her memory by family and friends, to the charities Maternity Worldwide and Sands (through http://www.justgiving.com/EsmeBrunker). Frankie can be contacted by email: frankie.brunker@hotmail.co.uk.

 

Jean (Alison) McVittie
Born 31st  August 1930, died 25th August 2013
Jean died peacefully in her sleep in the early hours of Sunday morning 25th August 2013, in Hamilton, New Zealand.

John Edward Walker

Born 27th April 1926, died 8th August 2013. John died peacefully at Bedford Hospital following treatment for cancer. John was the loving husband of Vida (BHS 1942) and father of eight.: Lydia (BHS 1977), Hannah (BHS 1979), Elisabeth (BHS 1984) and Claudia (BHS 1986).  John was also a valued supporter of The Bedford High School Foundation.

Angela Hipwell (née Tunbridge) 1938-2012 (BHS1949-1955)
Angela died suddenly on December 31st 2012. She had been in hospital for three days and I was expecting her to stay for the New Year as she had phoned confirming her determination to be out and about again. However it was not to be and she had endured more health problems that any of us realised so at least she avoided a long period of severe illness.

Angela came to Hilbre Grange from Norfolk in 1949, following in her mother’s footsteps (Katherine Whitfield) who had been in Grange with Sandy Hebblethwaite’s mother Ida Pitts. She was an enthusiastic boarder playing in lots of teams and joining in plays etc with Miss Gowen. After school she went to Rachel Macmillan training college in London and trained as a teacher.

She married James Hipwell, a well-known Norwich solicitor, recently widowed, and aged 22 took on his two children and then quickly had her own Piers and Alex. A busy family life followed, supporting Jimmy in his professional and public life but the marriage did not endure. Angela with typical determination kept the family together and Piers remembers a secure and diverse childhood. Later she had a brief second marriage but then resumed teaching in Norfolk. Later she became an itinerant carer. She was an excellent homemaker and made many sick and lonely people very happy with her thorough domestic caring skills.

Later in retirement she enjoyed the social life of the Norfolk Club and was an excellent hostess. Holidays with the grandchildren became very special. She found marvellous holiday homes and we shared many brilliant days at the north Norfolk coast. Our children remember her with huge affection.

My own friendship was over 60 years, started at the Grange by her days out on our farm and me loving her Norfolk life by the sea. We at the Grange in the 50s had a good bond and many wished to be at her memorial held in Norwich Cathedral on January 18th 2013 but the weather was snowy so I represented many Grangites.

Angela was a charming, enthusiastic person, her death was untimely and she will be much missed.

Submitted by Candida Godber (née Parrish) BHS 1947-1956

Veronica Morrish (Harris)
Veronica passed away on 7 November 2011 at the age of 79, after a brief illness. Having lived in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago as a small child, Veronica returned with her family to England and started her schooling in Exmouth. She then became a boarder at Bedford High School in the 1940s and was much loved by her friends there as she contributed so much to life in Wimborne. Veronica was good at games and was a loyal and affectionate friend. 

After finishing school, Veronica worked as a model and later as a secretary at Lloyd’s of London where she met her future husband, Chris. They married at Laleham Church in 1954 and their first home was on the Thames in Wraysbury. In 1955 they emigrated to Atlanta, Georgia where Chris worked in the insurance industry. Veronica was passionate about animals and surrounded herself with dogs, cats and horses until well into her seventies. She is survived by her brother Nigel Harris, of Cape Town, and her children, Carey, Stephanie, Giles and Hilary and her three grandchildren. Veronica was a wonderful sister, wife, mother, grandmother and friend and will be deeply missed by all who know and loved her.

Diana Carolyn Wood (St Aubin-James) BHS 1953-1964
Diana was born in Peterborough on 25 October 1945 and educated at Bedford High School for Girls. In her youth she was a keen hockey and tennis player and a Guide leader. She was married on 29 August 1970 at St Johns RC Church, Bridge Street, Northampton by an Anglican Vicar and a Roman Catholic Priest.

Even though, at an early stage, Diana was aware that she had Myotonic Dystrophy she stoically coped with the disability, starting a nursing career and qualifying and practising as a Midwife at Kings, London. She was also an intensive care ward Sister in both adult and pediatric care at Northampton, Derby and Leicester. Diana’s sister, Mary had Muscular Dystrophy and Diana cared for her until Mary passed away. Di also ensured that her mother in law was enabled to retain some independence in 'the granny flat'. Diana had a long association with Welford living on a Narrow boat by the wharf for two years. She then lived in Market Harborough moving to West End after four years.

Diana’s family came from a long line of Vicars and she watched with interest the careers of the Welford incumbents. She was a keen member of the Mothers Union and the WI and her family were grateful for to those members who helped with transporting and pushing Diana in her wheelchair to various meetings which were always the highlight of her week.

Dame Alice Harpur School

Jasjot Kaur Singhota (1993-2004)

Jasjot was tragically killed in a traffic accident on 26th January 2017, aged 30. Jasjot was a junior doctor, working as an Anaesthetic Specialist Registrar (ST4) and on course to becoming a Consultant. 


At school Jasjot was an extremely popular and remarkable student who excelled in all areas of school life. Jasjot was also in the Head Girl’s Team, an accomplished rower, a talented musician and also the first female Head of Corps at CCF.

Jasjot had strong ambitions to work for Médecins Sans Frontières (UK), as she felt very strongly about helping others. Jasjot’s family have set up a collection for the charity in her memory  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JasjotSinghota

Jasjot’s sisters both attended DAHS, Harjot (2002) and Tumpreet (2013). The sisters have set up a Facebook page in Jasjot’s memory which is open to those that wish to
share their memories, In Memory of Our Love, Dr Jasjot Singhota.

Jasjot’s funeral will be taking on February 14th at 11:30. Antim Ardas will be held at Guru Nanak Gurdwara.

10:30-11:00 Guru Nanak Gurdwara

11:00 Leave for the Crematorium

11:30 - 12:15 Jasjot’s Service

Then we will go back to the Gurdwara for a final service and langar.

The address of the Gurdwara is 84 Ford End Rd, Bedford MK40 4JX.

The address of the Crematorium is 100-104 Norse Road, Bedford, MK41 ORL.

Transport will be available from the Gurdwara to Norse Road and then back again to the Gurdwara - if so required

Joan Cobban (née Eccleshall, 1952-1958)

Died suddenly on 9th October 2016 and will be sadly missed by her family and friends. Jean enjoyed regular meet ups with her group of friends from school.

 

Joan Eatwell (née Taylor, 1949-1952)

Died peacefully on 25th February 2016, aged 80.  Sadly missed by her family and partner. Funeral to be held on Wednesday 9th March at 2pm at All Saints' Church, Renhold. Guests requested to dress brightly. Donations if desired to Macmillan Nurses.

 

Claire Tysoe (née Gibbons, 1972-1979)

Bravely lost her battle peacefully at St. John's Hospice on 19th February 2016 surrounded by close family and friends aged 55. A much loved wife to David, mother to Adam, William and Chloe, daughter to Ron and Madge, sister to Mark and Paul and a loving auntie. She touched the hearts of everyone she met, and will be sadly missed by everyone who knew her. Funeral service to take place at Bedford Crematorium Norse Road on Thursday 10th March at 2.30 pm. Family flowers only please, donations welcome for Sue Ryder-St. John's Hospice may be given via www.memorygiving.com .

 

Jayne Willie (née Mason, 1973 )

Jayne died peacefully on 19th January, 2016 Jayne aged 61 years of Rushden. Beloved wife of the late Kevin. Loving mum of Louisa and Melissa, Pete and Marcus (Sons in law). Devoted grandma to Paige, Alfie, Grace and Laurie and dearest daughter of Jean. Funeral service will take place at Independent Wesleyan Church, Rushden on Wednesday 3rd February at 1.00 p.m. followed by interment at Rushden Cemetery. It was Jayne's request to wear what you want to the service. Family flowers only please, donations if desired for Cancer Research UK may be sent to A. Abbott & Sons Independent Family Funeral Directors, Bedford Road, Rushden. NN10 0LZ. 01933 312142.

 

Ann Dukes (née Darlow, 1948-1956)

Sister of Jean and Pamela, passed away on Christmas Day after a short illness.

Wendy Eyre (née Bailey, 1950-1956)

Passed away following a battle with Alzheimer’s disease on 18th December 2015, aged 77 years. Wendy’s daughter’s Anita and Julia both attended Bedford High School, tragically passing away in 1982.

Daphne Allan (née Seamark, 1939)

Passed away peacefully in October 2015. Sadly Daphne had been suffering from Alzheimer’s since 2007 but it is understood that Daphne was recruited straight from school to work at Bletchley Park, as she was particularly good at French and German.

 

Dorothy Whitlock (née Northern, 1942-1947)

Born in Harrold in 1931 and died peacefully at home in Swineshead in June 2015.

Kathleen (Kate) Dillon (née Skinner, 1949-1955)

Kate passed away suddenly but peacefully at the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital on 2nd April 2015 aged 76 years. A loving mother to Sam and Fiona, mother-in-law to Andrew and
Pete and grandmother to James, Rachel and Jack, Tom and Robert. She will be sadly missed by all her family and friends.

 

Joan Sargent (Dame Alice 1936-1942)

Passed away on 13th March 2015 aged 92 years, following a short illness. Joan was the much loved sister to Doris (deceased) and cousin to Margaret.

 

Barbara Wilkins (Dame Alice 1939-1945)

Passed away following a short stay at Moggerhanger Hospice. Remembered by many at Dame Alice Harpur School, where she worked as a Food Technician.

Margaret Todman (Dame Alice 1947 - 1982)

Passed away following a short illness on Monday 19th January 2015. Margaret was a much adored member of staff and former Head of the Prep School. Margaret joined Dame Alice in 1947 and retired in 1982.

 

Rebecca Farnworth (1983)

Passed away on 24th November 2014, aged 49. Rebecca was a Brighton based writer and the ghost writer behind Katie Price's best-selling book success. Rebecca will be remembered from her school days as being very intelligent and generally awe-inspiring.

Margaret Minns (Dame Alice 1945 - 1952)

Passed away peacefully on 24th October 2014, aged 80.  A much loved sister, aunt and friend. Margaret taught at Bedford High School from 1962-1966.

 

Ruth Blackman

Passed away in October 2014.  Ruth was the niece of Miss Todman and a honorary member of DAHSA.

Mrs Joan Proudfoot (former staff member)

Following several years of illness Joan sadly passed away on 15th August 2014.  Joan joined the school when Miss Morse was Headmistress and in later years became Deputy Head. Joan was also Head of the Home Economics department for many years, which was very successful under her direction.

Dancer Radmila (Millie)

Peacefully on the 12th July 2014 at home, aged 75. Devoted wife of Derek, mother of Colin & Michael, mother-in-law to Melanie & Anita, grandmother to Jack & Sam. Greatly missed by family and friends. Remembered by many at Dame Alice Harpur School.

Barbara Alice Parrott (Bedford Girls' Modern School 1931-1939)

Born 9th April 1921, died 24th April 2014

A very active member and past President of what she always referred to as the Old Girls Association, Barbara will, perhaps, be best remembered for organising and performing at the annual ‘Blind Party’ throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s.

Her first experience of school was as a pupil in the progressive environment of the Froebel (Training College) School in The Crescent, to which she later attributed her wide-ranging interest in the arts. When, at the age of 11, she moved to what was then The Bedford Girls’ Modern School, she was initially shocked by the more rigorous, academic focus but quickly embraced it and flourished, especially in languages and the humanities. Although very shy by nature, she took leading roles in several school plays,
including that of Lady Macbeth. Barbara left school in 1939, having spent her last (‘Matriculation’) year in the new premises in Cardington Road.

Barbara was inspired by many of her teachers, not least those of History, English and French: history, drama and poetry were enduring passions. In 1938 at the age of 17, she travelled with her great friend Peggy Hall (now Peggy Winter) to Bordeaux for a month’s exchange visit, the details of which she never forgot. In the years immediately after the war she made further trips to France and always delighted in speaking French with French-speaking family members.

Barbara was probably best known in Bedford, where she was born and spent all but 4 years of her life, as a teacher. She was a class teacher at Ampthill Road School and at Queen’s Park, and for several decades she worked as a music teacher in primary and secondary schools throughout the Borough and in different parts of the county, teaching numerous children primarily to enjoy singing; she would frequently be recognised and greeted around the town by ex-pupils, often parents and grandparents themselves.

In retirement, Barbara took full advantage of the opportunity to pursue and extend her wide range of interests, not least through her enthusiastic membership of Bedford Retirement Centre, where she attended a wide range of classes over the next three decades.

Barbara was an immensely talented and creative artist - ‘artist’ in the broadest sense. A singing pupil of Clarence Raybould, Barbara had a beautiful and distinctive soprano voice. She sang in many choirs and in Bedford Choral Society, and obtained prizes in a range of classes annually at Bedford Music Festival, as did many of her private pupils. The music at her Service of Thanksgiving was chosen for the occasion by Barbara, and included the Benedictus from the Mozart Requiem. A quartet of singers from Christ Church Choir, coached by Barbara and with Barbara singing the top line, won first prize at the Festival singing this. Barbara was not only blessed with a fine voice, but also with innate musicality. She conducted many local choirs and was still accompanying the Putnoe Town’s Women’s Guild choir as she approached her 90th birthday. For many years she was Assistant Organist at Christ Church.

Music was not, however, the only art form in which Barbara made her mark. Building on her experience of drama at school, she was a valued contributor to a number of playreading groups well into her 80s. She frequently and enthusiastically attended the theatre in Bedford, Cambridge, London and Milton Keynes. Her love of music and theatre combined on many occasions, most notably in mounting a production of Britten’s ‘Let’s Make an Opera’ at Christ Church Hall in the early 1960s, and in collaborating with her teaching colleague Pat Redmond to create and stage a version of ‘The Mastersingers’ at Silver Jubilee/Kingsbrook School in the early 1970s.

Her passionate interest in – and knowledge of - English and local history extended to English country dance, and for many years she led a well-attended, dance group at Christ Church. In retirement she added pottery to her existing accomplishment in both tapestry and flower arranging. She had a strong sense of colour and she chose clothes to match with the same sensitivity, attention and flair that she brought to the design of her garden.

Barbara Parrott died in April 2014 shortly after her 93rd birthday.

Margaret Heather Laird OBE (former staff)

Born 29th January 1933, died 11th May 2014

Many of the following words have been taken from the funeral address given by Father Stephen Evans, Rector of St Marylebone.

Margaret Laird was born and educated in Truro before going to London University to read Medieval History. It was during her post- graduate year at King's that she first met John whom she married in 1961.

She always enjoyed teaching,firstly  at the Grey Coat Hospital School and at Newquay Grammar School, and, after her marriage, at St Alban's High School when her husband was Chaplain of Bishop's College, Cheshunt.

They moved to Keysoe in north Bedfordshire in the late 60s and  Margaret combined bringing up her two sons ,Andrew and Stephen, and being a clergy wife with, in 1970, becoming Head of Religious Education at DAHS.

Her teaching not only revealed Margaret's expert knowledge but also a warm and sometimes engagingly subversive character, always ensuring that the young teachers in the staff room were well looked after! During her teaching years, she also served as a member of the General Synod's House of Laity, examined GCEs , and  wrote for the
Bible reading fellowship as well as taking long train journeys to Cornwall to visit her mother and even longer journeys when travelling to Spain on holiday; she could take on a formidable load which never seemed to affect her devotion to her pupils and their progress.

In January 1989 she took up a invitation from Archbishop Runcie to become the Third Estates commissioner. Her decade in office as Chair proved to be a time of great change for the Church of England; she was committed to the Catholic faith and she remained steadfast in her beliefs and always loyal to the Church in spite of her questioning its change in ministerial order.

In 1999 Margaret retired from the Church Commissioners; she was invested as an officer of the Order of the British Empire and awarded the cross of Saint Augustine, in recognition of her outstanding service to the Church of England.

Following her husband John's retirement from Keysoe, they lived at Hatfield House where John served as Chaplain to the Marquis of Salisbury.

Throughout the past three years, although medical treatment made her unwell for periods of time, Margaret never saw herself as  a cancer victim; there were many months when things were almost normal, and she enjoyed spells in Cornwall , made short trips abroad! wrote articles, attended committees and received a steady flow
of friends and family at home and in hospital. 

It may interest Margaret's teaching colleagues and friends to note that her book ' From now to eternity- fifty assemblies for older secondary
students' was published by RMEP in 2001. Each of the assembly scripts was concluded with a prayer, many of which Margaret composed herself.

Miss Tonner and Miss Norwood Remembered

I am sorry to have to pass on news of the recent deaths of two popular teachers who left DAHS in 1958, Miss Joy Norwood (History) and Miss Gill(ian) Tonner (Geography). I'd been in touch with Joy since 2004, after she responded to an appeal in DAHSA News, and we continued to exchange news each Christmas. But havingheard nothing from her at Christmas 2012, and no response to a letter a couple of months later, I became concerned and sent a postcard to ″The Owner/Occupier  ~ This is NOT a Circular″. Months later someone working on renovating the house thoughtfully phoned to say he'd come across my card, which had slipped between the floorboards (!), and he could tell me that Joy Norwood had died, but nothing further; her death must almost certainly have been in 2012. Meanwhile,the current owner at Gill Tonner's Gloucester address let me know of her death, probably also sometime in 2012, from cancer. It seems somehow not unfitting that these two old friends should have died within such a short time of one another.

They had shared a flat while teaching at DAHS and, even though their careers diverged after they left in 1958, they remained great friends and would stay or take holidays with one another every year. Joy regretted that they'd had to miss that annual meeting in 2011, because, with her own arthritis becoming increasingly troublesome, neither of them was in good health, and ″at least one of us does need to be reasonably well″. They were exact contemporaries, and would both have been 80 in 2012. They were apparently as different in personality ~ at any rate, from a pupil's perspective ~ as they were in appearance, Joy being a cheery, good-humoured extrovert and Gill reserved, quiet but firm, with a tendency to irony and a drier sense of humour. Everyone adored Miss Norwood; Miss Tonner one respected and several girls had crushes on her.

I know little of Gill's years post-1958, only that she left DAHS to teach in Sweden, and that she'd had a number of serious illnesses over the years, "but kept going". We know she had family, as it was a nephew who sold her house. Joy moved to Larnswood High School, Leeds, as Head of History, going on to become Deputy Head of the School, before a year in Cambridge obtaining an Advanced Diploma in Education. She then returned to Bedford to the teachers' training college (later attached to Montfort University). She was also warden of a large mixed-sex student hostel in Rothsay Gardens (and became ″completely unshockable ever since!″), retiring in 1984. Neither of them married; Joy took pleasure in the companionship of her dog and she had many enduring friendships, a number of godchildren, and what she described as ″an adopted family″, a great joy to her.

Submitted by Cynthia Reavell (was Dunbar-Marshall). Left in 1959

I am grateful to my former classmate, Carol Perla (nee Munkman) for going to Joy's Rosamond Road address on my behalf, to try to find out what had become of her. If anyone reading this has a photo of either Joy or Gill in more recent years, I'd love to see it.

Freda Smallwood (née Inkersole)
Died 2013, aged 101.

Former pupil of Bedford Modern Girls' School in the 1920s.

Marjorie Olive Ridout (née Roberts, 1948-1953)
Born 1935, died 2013.

 

Judy Denison-Edson (née Walker), DAHS leaver 1963 
Died February 25th 2013.
Judy passed away peacefully and unexpectedly in Yorkshire. The dearly loved wife of Peter, mother of Will and Edward, grandmother of Sebastian, Matthew and Henry and sister of John, she will be greatly missed and warmly remembered.

Jaskomal SherGill
Born 12th March 1989. Died 11th January 2013.
Jaskomal, the much loved youngest daughter of Pargan Singh and Jaswinder Kaur and baby sister to Jaspreet and Gurjoban, sadly passed away after a two year battle with cancer.

Jaskomal spent her earliest years in Hitchin before moving to Clifton where she lived for 22 years. Home was always a happy place for Jaskomal. She was a very proud family person who loved her family immensely and was loved back in equal measure. At Dame Alice Harpur School, Jaskomal excelled in every subject. A hard working and studious girl, her ambition was to always to one day be a vet. A love for animals and particularly dogs was was something that would later identify her to those who knew her best. Jaskomal obtained excellent grades in her GCSEs and A Levels and earned a place at University College, London, to study Mathematics. In the summer of 2010 she completed a prestigious internship at Barclays Capital, demonstrating to everybody the talent that had always been obvious to her very proud family.

Jaskomal was a dynamic individual, not only in her academic and professional life, but also in her personal life.  Her sense of style shone like the brightest star and her sense of fun ensured that Jaskomal was blessed with many friends throughout every stage of her life. Jaskomal was taken from us at a tragically young age. She demonstrated real courage and dignity every day in her fight against this illness, never complaining nor begrudging others. Jaskomal was a genuine inspiration to all who knew her. One of the final moments in Jaskomal’s wonderful life occurred when she was able to celebrate the 1st birthday of her beloved nephew Cameron, a boy with whom she spent every day and on whom she doted.

Iris Helen Inkpen (née Dewsbury)
Died 29th January 2013. 
Iris died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease having fallen ill in December 2012. She joined Dame Alice in 1957. Each year, Iris and her close school friends arranged meet-ups in Bedford and London where they still got on famously. After her death, friends and family rallied to raise funds for the CJD Network in her memory. She is greatly missed and is remembered as a dynamic, warm and inspirational woman.

Greta Beatty (née Gilbert)
Born 1934. Died January 2013. 
Greta attended Dame Alice between 1945 and 1952. When she initially joined the school it was known as Bedford Girls’ Modern School before changing its name to Dame Alice in 1946. Greta was extremely proud to be involved in such an important period of the school’s history.

Alison Seamon Taylor
Died 2012.

Miss Suzanne Morse, Headmistress at DAHS 1970-1990
Died 17th December 2012, aged 82. 
During her time as Headmistress of Dame Alice Harpur School, Miss Morse made a difference to thousands of people’s lives. Her gentleness, wisdom, poise and thoughtfulness inspired genuine warmth in her pupils and staff. She was a woman of great dignity and blessed with a great sense of humour but also one with an iron will who could see through pretence.

During 20 years as Headmistress, she saw many changes to the education system and remained dedicated to ensuring the very best  education was available to as many girls as possible. She persuaded the Governors to approve the use of the endowment for a bursary scheme, a scheme she felt passionate about and one that has had, and continues to have, an enormous, positive impact on a great many women and girls. Her legacy continues in Bedford and the wider world.

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