Members News

This page contains members news. If you have some news for this section either email or send your news to one of the Burton upon Trent Girls' High School Association contacts.

40 Years On: BGHS Reunion

On Saturday 7th November 2015, the Linnell Building of Abbot Beyne School was visited by twelve former pupils, who left the school in 1975. They were given a tour of the buildings by Andrew Storer, the school bursar, with everyone’s favourite being the 6th form common rooms and the gym, which looked surprisingly the same!

The same evening, a further three joined the group for dinner at the Dial and a great time was had by all; friendships rekindled, addresses exchanged and promises made of future get-togethers.

Here’s to 50 Years On!

Helen Walker (née Roberts)

Reunion in October 2015

Helen Walker nee Roberts studied at Burton Girls' High School from 1968-75.

Helen is organising a reunion in October 2015. Any pupil who was in the same year is asked to contact Helen by email. Her email address is

Julie Heptonstall

Julie Heptonstall (pictured in the blue dress) was a pupil at Burton Girls' High School between 1973 and 1978.

After leaving school Julie studied for a degree in history at Leeds University.

Julie joined the BBC in 1982 working for BBC Sport. Eventually she began working in production, producing many programmes including Breakfast Time. She produced live outside broadcast programmes, particularly Royal events, such as Remembrance Day and Trooping the Colour.

Recently Julie was responsible for producing programmes of military events and, using her knowledge of history, she personally planned and produced the D Day Celebration programme and also the World War I Remembrance programme for which she won a BAFTA which she received at the 2015 awards ceremony.

Contact with Old Girls

Member Caroline Manners on sending her apologies for the Annual General Meeting 2014 thought that other members might be interested to know that she is in touch with the following “Old Girls” – all around 80, who were at school together during the late forties and early fifties – these are June Warren, Margaret Thorpe, Helen Nolan, Dilys Hill, Ann Tatford, Judith Wright and herself Carol Pollett – these are all maiden names.

This was included in the Hon Secretary’s Report which was circulated to members and on reading this member Joyce Chowings/née Gough wrote to say that she remembered all of those girls as she was in that same year herself and she keeps in touch with Wendy Allen, Marion Henderson, Margaret Smeaton and Catherine Bunting

More Sad News

Miss Betty Richards, former teacher at the school died on 31 August 2013.

In his eulogy, Richard Williams, Miss Richards’ nephew said his aunt Betty had been born to his maternal grandmother Margaret Jane in 1929 in the living quarters of the Royal Oak, one of the public houses in Merthyr Tydfil owned by Betty’s maternal grandfather, the noted local businessman Evey Davies. Her father, the wonderfully named Christmas Richards, was a clerk and his work soon took him, along with his wife and Betty to Cardiff where Betty’s younger sister, Jean, Richard’s mother was born in 1931. Sadly she was unable to be at Betty’s funeral as the event would have been too much for her. Betty and Jean’s father Chris died within a year of Jean’s birth before they could form any memory of their father and they returned with their mother to the Royal Oak where she resumed her pre-marriage role as a pub manager. The girls’ grandparents were like second parents to them and were known to them as Dad and Mam.

Both Richards girls excelled in school and Betty’s specialism was foreign languages. The reference from her Headmaster J R Williams at the Girls’ Grammar school she attended on the site of Cyfarthfa Castle, a Gothic mansion and park, described her as ‘having academic qualities above the average’ and as ‘pleasant and vivacious, with a sense of responsibility...keenly interested in school enthusiastic member of the school choir’. ‘She showed initiative and originality and, naturally self-possessed and deliberate, she proved a very good prefect. Intelligent and quick to grasp the essential features of a problem, she brought her independent judgement to bear on a situation.’

Having successfully taken the Higher Certificate in French, German and Latin, Betty characteristically struck out to read General Studies at Liverpool between 1947 and 1950 – this was effectively what would now be called a joint degree in German, French and Latin. One of her lecturers, Dorothy Knowles, a world authority on French drama, described Betty in a reference for her as ‘a person of unusual initiative and resource....As head student in one of the Halls of Residence (a position to which she was elected by her peers) she has organised activities in a very successful manner, and in her dealings with her fellow students has shown a degree of tact rare in one so young...She has an easy manner, is reliable and willing.’ Richard said that it was Dorothy Knowles who introduced Betty to fencing and for many years visitors to 89 Ashby Road where she lived would be confronted by the unusual sight of a fencing mask in the downstairs loo.

Betty’s first academic love was of course German and her Professor W E Collinson described her as ‘an alert and intelligent person who knows how to set to work and is not daunted by difficulties.’ He correctly predicted ‘she has the making of a competent teacher, especially as her lively temperament will be an asset in language classes.’

In September 1951 Betty took up her first teaching post at Burton Girls’ High School and taught there and at its successor institution Abbot Beyne until her retirement in 1984. Richard went on to say that when his Aunt Betty recalled her teaching career the first thing she would mention was that she was a strict disciplinarian. He went on to say that it is clear from all the messages of admiration he has received from her former pupils is that she was so much more than a disciplinarian and for the best part of three decades was the inspiration for many students to study German at University and go on to teach it. One student described ‘her wonderful energy and enthusiasm in the classroom...a great sense of humour and a twinkle in her eye.’ A testimonial from the School’s Headmistress Miss Lloyd mid-way through Betty’s career sums her up well: ‘Miss Richards is a born teacher who delights in using her own clear mind to ensure that every point is clearly understood by every member of her class...Miss Richards always has a form which she gets to know well and she exercises a firm and friendly discipline which her pupils respect.’

Sad News concerning two of our oldest members

Lilian Gough died on 26th December 2011 at the age of 96.After leaving the Burton Girls’ High School Lilian successfully completed a degree in Botany at Birmingham University. Afterwards she became a teacher. She lived in Newhall for most of her life, teaching at the local William Allitt school. Her garden was a work of art, full of many plants.

She was a devout Christian. During the 1960’s she ran the Sunday School at the Mission Room on Stanton Road, Stapenhill with her sister Clare. Lilian was a very well respected member of the congregation at St. Peter’s Church in Stapenhill for many years and will be missed by them all.

Marjorie Darby came to Burton from Norwich. She completed her education at the Burton Girls’ High School in 1932. Marjorie graduated with a French Honours Degree from London University and then trained to be a teacher at Homerton College, Cambridge. Having spent time in France she returned to England and was appointed to the staff of the Burton Girls’ High School where she taught French. Marjorie had many other interests. She was a committee member of the Burton Circle Francais and a regular member of St. Mark’s Church, Winshill. She sang in choirs and was an accomplished pianist. Marjorie enjoyed art, literature, music, travel. history , walking and painting. She was a member of the National Trust, the Bronte Society, Burton Music Club and the Burton Natural History and Archeological Society. Having been President of the Burton Girls’ High School Association during 1975-6 Marjorie kept in close contact until she died on 21 January, the day after her 98th birthday. Marjorie will be missed by us all.

Sad news from one of our members

It was with great sadness that we learnt of the news of the death of former High School pupil, Kathy Lawrence, nee Corbett, who died on 25th July this year, aged 57 years. Kathy was a pupil at the High School from 1964-71, and went on to teacher training college in Loughborough, then pursued a successful career in teaching. She was married to Peter, with three children, Victoria, Thomas and Jonathan. Kathy's former teachers and fellow pupils will no doubt remember her not only as an able student but also as a very friendly, bubbly and fun-loving person. She will be sadly missed.

Freda's letter to members on her retirement as Hon. Secretary

Freda wrote a letter to all members, thanking them for the gifts she recieved to commemorate her 50 years as Hon. Secretary.
Freda's Letter to Members

A Good Read

Our late member, Mrs Pat Grimsley (Lowe), wrote a book which her husband, Dennis, has recently had published. Entitled A Tug of War, the book recounts Pat's battle with severe and progressive rheumatoid arthritis from the age of 21 until her death last year at the age of 71. Pat was a tireless campaigner for the Heywood Foundation where she was treated for 30 years and to which she donated £14,500 from the sale of her paintings - an interest which she enjoyed until she was unable to hold her paint brushes. Proceeds from the sale of her book (£7.00 per copy) will also be donated to the Foundation - which has announced that a £500 prize, to be known as The Pat Grimsley Prize, will be awarded every two years to the outstanding student at the Keele University Masters Course in Rheumatology Nursing. Copies of A Tug of War can be ordered direct through Dennis Grimsley (former Head Boy of Burton Grammar School) on 01782 512854 who will inform you of the additional cost of postage.

Jane Hind

Green Fields and Red Paddocks

The Leaving of England

One day in February 1959, 25-year-old Jane Trow set off on board a cruise ship bound for Adelaide in South Australia and a new way of life. Having found love aboard ship, Jane soon became a young bride. She lived on a sheep station in the East Murchison Goldfields, a very remote area in Western Australia with her station-hand husband. Jane battled with homesickness , cultural differences and some unfriendly locals – snakes, scorpions and the occasional outback identity. Jane was not discouraged. She soon showed the world how resilient and adaptable she could be.

Green Fields and Red Paddocks The Leaving of England was written by Jane in 2007, describing her way of life, both here in England and in Australia. It is a very interesting book.

Jane Hind (nee Trow) was a pupil at Burton Girls’ High School and is now a member of our association.