Memorial for ex-Hordle School head teacher Maureen Westlake and husband Colin
A MEMORIAL service has been held to celebrate the lives of former Hordle School head teacher Maureen Westlake and her husband Colin, who lived in Milford for many years.
The couple, who died within weeks of each other, were also longstanding and popular members of Hordle Church, where their memorial took place.
Both Maureen and Colin were head teachers, with Colin leading a school in Southampton and Maureen serving as head teacher of Hordle School from January 1989 to July 2000.
The former vicar of Hordle Church Revd Michael Anderson recalled: “I was chairman of governors when Maureen was appointed as head teacher at Hordle School in January 1989. To all those interviewing, I believe she was the obvious candidate for the post and we were delighted when she agreed to come, and was duly appointed.
“She trained, encouraged and supported her staff and pupils by both word and example.”
Maureen was born in Enfield in 1945, and was described by her son as quiet by nature but “formidably capable”. A successful classicist and historian, she spent a year in France and learnt the language fluently before moving to Cambridge.
After taking a career break to raise their sons Jerry and Tim, she returned to work as a teacher in the late 1970s – initially at Bursledon School in Southampton.
Her former Hordle School colleague and friend Louise Booth recalled: “She was quietly spoken and unassuming, never pushing her own views or agenda, but my goodness, when she did speak it was always worth listening to!
“Blessed with an exceptional intellect and an amazing memory, she was one of the best listeners I have ever known.”
During her headship, Maureen oversaw many major changes at Hordle, including the transition to grant maintained status which gave the school more control over its own budget.
Louise said: “As a result she was able to push forward with plans for a significant building extension, to replace five decrepit temporary classrooms dotted around the playground with what eventually was somewhat grandly called the ‘Westlake Wing’.
“She was always very embarrassed about the new building having a name at all, and in truth I never heard it called that, but the governors felt it was right – the achievement was very largely hers.”
“What drove her was her desire for Hordle school children to have the very best facilities she could provide in which to learn and thrive.”
Following her retirement Maureen took a more active role in the life of Hordle Church, helping make sandwiches for family events, and setting up the Baptism Family Link.
Colin, who had been head teacher of Highfield Church of England First and Middle Schools in Southampton from 1977 – 1988, before returning to the classroom, surrounded by children, where he was at his best.
Jerry recalled: “I was lucky enough to go to his primary school and remember his scratch orchestra performing Haydn’s Surprise Symphony, duck whistles and kazoos terrifying, rather than surprising, the innocent parents in the audience. His assemblies were remarkable as he shared stories of Sydney String, the sleeping policeman at Southampton University or the Higglefiggle monster.”
Maureen and Colin loved their garden in Milford and delighted in spending time with her children, and much loved grandchildren Bella, Oliver, Naomi, Noah and Phoebe. A memorial service has been held.