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Obituary: Nicole Webb – former Arnewood School and Brockenhurst College teacher

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NICOLE Webb, who taught at the Arnewood School in New Milton and Brockenhurst College, has died aged 79 after a long period of ill health.

Nicole, who spent almost 20 years as a teacher, also founded a popular French club for children at New Milton Memorial Centre.

She passed away on 9th September at St Francis Hospice in London.

Nicole Webb was a popular teacher and founder of a French club for children
Nicole Webb was a popular teacher and founder of a French club for children

Born and raised in rural France in the middle of the Second World War, she was the eighth of nine children. A clever girl, her mother encouraged her to apply for an educational bursary which she won by writing a short story.

Her ambition to become a writer in those times was beyond her means, as only one college in Paris offered a way into journalism.

Nicole instead took a practical route into work through taking the national civil service entry exams.

She learnt English to progress her career and decided to move to London, where she found a job as an au pair.

She met future husband Brian at a party and they married in Ilford, Essex, in 1965. Nicole joined the family business of silver-plating, first as secretary and then promoted to bookkeeper, administrator and eventually operations manager.

In the late 1960's, the couple moved to New Milton. Their daughter Caroline was born in 1971 and son Nik followed in 1977.

A change in career saw her create a children’s French language club in the town – the first of its kind in the area.

It soon became clear that teaching was something that she was born to do. She studied for a Certificate in Education, studying at nights while working during the day.

She went on to teach at the Arnewood School and Brockenhurst College. She also took on private clients as well as frequently giving unpaid support to neighbours and friends who needed help with translations.

As the commute to London became harder for Brian in the later years of his working life, they moved to Guildford. After he retired, they moved to Southampton and in the final years of his life they moved to Poole.

Wherever Nicole lived, she would come up with clever ways to add value to each property before they moved on.

She became a fearless DIYer and took on jobs that others would assume needed a builder’s help. In every property, she also transformed the garden.

After Brian died in 2009, she moved back to London to be closer to her children.

In her spare time she enjoyed spending time with family and friends, going to art exhibitions, reading novels, gardening and keeping up with scientific developments, especially in psychology and physics.

Nicole was diagnosed with vascular disease in 2000 and told it was so severe she likely had just five years to live. In 2017 she was also diagnosed with lung cancer.

Her funeral was held on 21st September at Hinton Park Woodland Burial Ground in Walkford.

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