Richard's notes from Anne's former pupils

in the garden at 5 Rife Way May 2010

Richard surprised several of us by remarking that Mif succeeded in three careers. The last of them, as a teacher lasted for twenty-five years. A network of former pupils spontaneously sent these messages of condolence, co-ordinated by Josie Boulter.

Hello Richard..
You asked me to collect some words about your mum from some of us Sion girls and below are just a few..

Contributions to these comments and to the flowers have come from Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the USA and of course much closer to home. 
I hope this gives you a sense of what she meant to us all.

 From Valerie Scott.
Oh Jo, that’s such sad news... I have to confess to shedding a tear or two as I write this. Mrs Whitehead was one of those lovely, inspiring teachers of whom we probably all have fond memories.

From Nicola Rogles.
What very sad news but so lovely we can share this - she was a wonderfully kind, patient and understanding person [had to be with me in English class as I was useless ]

From Fiona Tyrie.. 
Oh Jo. That is so so sad. She was my favourite teacher at school. She gave me such confidence in myself xxx

From Susan Hornsby.. 
Such sad news
😪. I have very early memories of Mrs Whitehead when she taught me at Sandhurst school even before Sion. I was rubbish at English even back then, but she was a lovely, patient teacher.

From Jane Burniston..
Thank you Jo for passing on the sad news.
She was a very kind lady. Horn [Susan Hornsby] I always thought you had a good command of the English language and now I know why xx

From Sian Fisher..
Please say.. ‘to the most caring teacher that has ever taught me, with love, Sian’. 
I would really appreciate it

Plus my own words that I posted on Facebook.. which I know you have seen already.

I received some really sad news late last night that even though it was not entirely unexpected knocked me for six to a degree which I didn't anticipate.
My first year English teacher [and form mistress] Mrs Whitehead passed away as the day dawned on Friday.. and even though I hadn't seen her in more than 10 years the news left me crying my eyes out. 
Not just teary, not just sniffy, really sobbing.'(
I mention this not because I want sympathy or to showcase my 'feelings' but to demonstrate what a huge impact some teachers and Mrs Whitehead in particular had on my life.
On all our lives.

Mrs Whitehead was absolutely the most wonderful lady.

In a profession notoriously known to split kids into lovers and haters she was universally loved.
People often refer to close colleagues as their 'work wife' well she was our school 'mum', who I remember distinctly could not or [I suspect] would not pronounce my name correctly.
Josie Boulter [Jo-C Bowl-Ter] always came out Juicy Boolter…much to the amusement of the class and her.
Not unkindly…never unkindly.
She was laughing at herself, not me.
But that gentle teasing helped a scared 11 year old girl, in a much posher environment than she was used to, surrounded by girls she thought were better than her, to be just a little less prickly and better able to let people in…rather than push them away, which was [and is;-) ] her natural inclination. 
I've never forgotten that kindness.. and looking back now I so admire the innate empathy that led her to understand what I needed and to help me in what seems like a small way, but which in fact changed my entire school experience.. for so much the better. 
[Yes Mrs W.. I know that's not grammatical ]
Fortunately for me a school summer trip to France on which Mrs Whitehead chaperoned led me to establish a lifelong friendship with her son.. and so, I maintained a relationship with her throughout my life. 
She never changed, she was endlessly kind, and funny and had a subversive streak that was constantly surprising.
The world is a poorer place without Mrs W in it. 
I will always be grateful, and I will never forget her.

RIP Mrs Whitehead…my renewed apologies for the terrible spelling