Thursday, 21 October 2021

Teacher adored by pupils for her patience and inspiration

MARJORIE PATRICIA WHITE was born on September 29, 1929.

MARJORIE PATRICIA WHITE was born on September 29, 1929.

She was brought up in Middlesbrough as an only child. She was a very solitary child whose greatest love was cycling around the moors.

Her father was a “jolly” policeman who was seconded to the German police at the end of the war in order to rebuild the German force.

After university, Marjorie taught in Sussex where she won the heart of Malcolm, who would go on to become headmaster at Gillotts School in Henley, much to the amazement of his colleagues who viewed him as a confirmed bachelor.

When Malcolm was appointed deputy head at Gillotts, Marjorie joined the staff to teach English and some French. Later she became head of English.

Her flair for dramatic reading with her extraordinary range of voices and accents made her lessons come alive as a multitude of former pupils have said. Being a headmaster’s wife is never easy but Marjorie was loved and respected by all. She was discreet, compassionate and a soul friend to many.

She “retired” in 1980 but as a born teacher it wasn’t long before she started again at Shiplake. To pupils who were struggling with their English she was a tower of strength.

She was more than a teacher; she was a friend to umpteen pupils who adored her and it was that endless patience which made her so good as a teacher.

No matter how long it took, no matter how many mistakes, there was always that gentle “never mind, let’s have another go”.

The death of Malcolm was a terrible loss to Marjorie but there was an amazing calmness about her, almost a serenity which she was trying to infuse into his last 24 hours.

They had been a wonderful couple and because at the end there were no regrets, no sharp edges, she was able to recall all their happy times together, at Gillotts, at Shiplake, in their home, on countless dramatic productions.

Since her death, so many former pupils have reflected on the huge debt they owe to her in helping them achieve results which would not have been possible without her.

There was a kind of gentle saintliness about her which is hard to define. She was a person of strong faith and that was evident.

She was so capable and so caring. She carried the worries and concerns of so many who were in trouble.

Life for her was far from easy in the latter years yet the last thing she wanted was sympathy.She had her pools of water from which she drank.

For hundreds of children, friends and colleagues here was a wonderful lady whose light shone so brightly for us all.

She attracted us, drew us in and made us feel better people because she was part of our lives.

Marjorie passed away on July 25, 2016.

A service of thanksgiving took place at St Peter and St Paul’s church in Shiplake on Wednesday last week.

It was led by Rev Michael Seymour-Jones, assistant curate for the parish.

Tributes were given by Ian Lowry and Rev Robert Prance, former chaplain of Shiplake College.

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