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News > OP updates > Obituaries > Jean Edwards 1933-2021

Jean Edwards 1933-2021

16 Dec 2021
Written by Millie Ansell
Jean Edwards 1933-2021
Jean Edwards 1933-2021

Jean began working at PGS in 1997, following on from a successful teaching career in the south of England and after she had “retired”, latterly teaching at PHS. She initially was appointed to be a part time teacher of Geography which suited her well and she also made great friends in the Common Room and supported it fully. In my first year teaching, we shared a particularly challenging Year 9 group and, at some point during the first term, one of us overheard the other bemoaning our luck and struck up conversation – Jean forever lamented “Oh, they were awful” yet looking back, they were just teenagers who had particular issues with punctuality! Jean and I struck a firm friendship after that and it was she who introduced me to others who would become good mates, as she always described us.

Eventually, Jean stood down from teaching Geography and yet, in true TRH style, carried on at PGS. In those days, pupils in Year 7 who had come from feeder schools would send a letter back to their Year 6 teacher to let them know how they were getting on and one of the roles Jean had was to carefully edit the letters, making sure we did not send any out with the obviously well-intentioned but probably would not go down too well type: “I’m learning so much more here than I did with you”  She also helped Paul Nials with PHSE which mostly went well, particularly the sessions when demonstrating how to put a condom on and her box of blue “props” scarred many a teenager, one telling me that watching a person the same age as his gran demonstrating this was “just wrong!”

Next, Jean helped Eimer Page begin to formalise the provision for pupils with special needs and then famously became the Chief of the invigilators. The sight of Jean and her small band of (mostly) retired teachers arriving in for the season was always a joy and everything ran smoothly, although again pupils were occasionally worried that she might not make it through the session when one of her coughing fits hit.

Jean was nothing if not versatile and she found herself accompanying Jamie Henderson for the Music tour of Austria; fieldtrips; ski trips to Killington, where she was the “chaperone”, the teacher who was always on duty at base in case pupils became ill on the slopes. The pupils loved her as they knew they would receive a warm response (and a hot chocolate for their ordeal) and the teachers loved her as they did not have to take an afternoon out from skiing to sit in the base!

Eventually, Jean retired properly and for her leaving speech I was told not to be rude! So I simply began by acknowledging that she was very old and in fact was the grandmother of William Smith … a customary shout immediately came from her seat of “Get on with it, you idiot!” She then fabulously told everyone that it was not that she did not agree it was time to stop, simply that nobody had told her to do so before now!

In retirement, she continued to enjoy a full life with her book clubs, theatre visits; craft weekends and, of course, coming over to see her “mates” as she always called us. Jean was the greatest of mates and I was privileged to be able to see her every week in the final months when things became difficult and she was not able to get out as much. The view from her flat overlooking the beach on Hayling was a great comfort and that is how I will remember her … along with a large glass of white in her hand!

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