An inspirational woman who taught generations of Northampton schoolgirls has died at the age of 87.
Wanda Davies taught Spanish and History of Art for more than 40 years at Northampton High School for Girls in Derngate. With her trusty Raleigh bicycle, which she’d had since she was a pupil at the school herself, she was a much-loved and familiar figure around the town.
Born Wanda Matthews and named after her mother’s Polish dance teacher, she grew up in Sandringham Road and spent much of her life around Abington Park, a place she loved. As a child, she pushed her baby brother Stuart around the park in a pram, and later married her mechanical engineer husband Kenneth in the church there.
She had returned to the High School at the invitation of its headmistress, the imposing Miss Marsden, after her mother died while Wanda was taking her final exams at Oxford University. Looking after her father and brother, she began a career that would last four decades, earning the love and respect of thousands of her pupils. It became a standing joke that on any outing, at least one former ‘girl’ would approach her and thank her for the part she’d played in her education.
Although her working life revolved around girls, her own family consisted of four boys – John, Patrick, Michael and Nicholas – brought up in the family home in Park Avenue North. Later on, she would also become an adored Granny to 11 grandchildren.
After retirement and the death of her husband in 1990, she moved into a retirement flat in Albion Court, built on the site of the old High School, which had by then relocated to Hardingstone. She was a frequent visitor to the Royal & Derngate theatres and a regular attender at St Giles Church and the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Barrack Road.
Suffering from cancer, she spent the last few months of her life at Spencer House Care Home in Cliftonville, where she died peacefully on Sunday, September 6. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.
Within hours of the news emerging, Facebook tributes were pouring in, with former pupils describing Wanda as “a truly wonderful teacher, mentor and inspiration”, “a lovely lady”, “amazing” and “such a wonderful lady who influenced many young lives”. Susannah Hardy wrote: “She was the one teacher who really inspired me and her love of her subject has stayed with me and given me such pleasure”.