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Obituary: Jackie Bradfield – former head of art at Walhampton School in Lymington

THE founder of the art department at Walhampton School, Jackie Bradfield, who ran it for 25 years has died aged 94.

Jackie, who was married to the school’s head master John Bradfield, was described as “a legend” by staff.

She was a keen birdwatcher and formed a branch of the Young Ornithologists Club (YOC).

Jackie and John Bradfield
Jackie and John Bradfield

She created a duck reserve in the school grounds, encouraging YOC members to contribute pairs of different species.

As a keen rider, she kept her horse, Hoppy, at the school for 20 years. She owned a gypsy caravan and pioneered what were to become annual treks around the New Forest.

She was also a dog lover; first Wally and then Kylie, both border terriers, were always at her side and very much part of the school.

Jackie was born on 26th May 1928 in Tonbridge, Kent, the youngest of three sisters.

She studied at Camberwell in London where renowned artist, painter and illustrator Edward Ardizzone was her tutor.

At the end of her final year she was selected for the newly launched annual Young Contemporaries Exhibition of emerging artists.

Known by her maiden name of Jackie Le May, she joined the staff of Walhampton as an assistant matron in 1956, and two years later was asked to establish an art department.

A spokesperson for the school said: “Not only was she a highly gifted artist and potter, she was also an inspirational teacher.

“Generations of pupils were nurtured by her, and their talents developed and blossomed under her kindly, discerning eye.

“One of her lasting legacies was to encourage her best pupils to paint a mural depicting many of Walhampton’s multifarious activities.

“To this day, this masterpiece is there for all to see, adorning a wall of the Mosaic Passage.”

Jackie and John were married in 1968 and while continuing to teach full-time, she took on the many duties of a headmaster’s wife.

She and John, both committed Christians, shared a vision of a school which sought to bring out the talents of every child.

The couple retired in 1983 and moved to the Isle of Mull in Scotland, where they had a house and an adventure centre on the banks of Loch Scridain.

He had set up the centre in 1963, buying an old schoolhouse for £50. It has been in use continuously ever since.

Jackie, a superb cook, would preside over a two-burner gas stove and an open range, producing delicious meals for 20 or more hungry children and accompanying staff.

Each year a party still goes there during the school’s expeditions week at the end of the summer term.

John died in 1997, and Jackie spent her retirement doing her favourite things: art, the church, and riding as well as exploring local history.

She co-wrote and illustrated a monograph on Glenmore and illustrated another on Ardmeanach peninsula.

She is survived by her nephew Mark and nieces Nicola and Sarah, who described Jackie as “not one to want a fuss” but big on fun and happiness.

The school said Jackie would be remembered with “great love and affection by many whom she taught and by many who were fortunate enough to be her colleagues”.

A thanksgiving service in the school chapel is being planned for later in the year.

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