Miss Winifred Ellis – infant teacher 1927-1946

The following obituary was written in Leigh Parish Magazine in August 2003 by John Knock

Miss WINIFRED ELLIS died on 1 July at the age of 104, after being taken ill the previous night.  Miss Ellis was the ‘infants’ teacher at Leigh School from 1927 to 1946, cycling each day from her home at Fletchers Green, Sevenoaks Weald.  I joined her class in 1941.  From the outset she made me feel secure and cared for, as she did with all the children throughout those years.  She was a kind but firm teacher, never noisy, but not afraid to stand up on behalf of ‘her children’ to the rather formidable Headmaster and taught us thoroughly and well, and to be accurate with what we said and did.  She had a most remarkable memory and kept up-to-date with her former pupils’ activities, many of them long since ‘retired’, right to the end.

From 1946 to her own retirement in 1964 she taught at Cobden Road School in Sevenoaks and until he died quite recently (aged 100) kept an eye on her ‘little’ brother living nearby to her.  She remained a vital member of the Weald Methodist Chapel, where her hundredth birthday was celebrated in 1998.  In recent years she visited Leigh School several times, a birthday visit in 1996 organized by Chris and Anna Rowley and the memorable Leigh School Millennium Reunion where she sparkled with recognition of so many of her old pupils.

She opened the new ‘Reception’ classroom at the School in 2001 and as each child brought her a card she talked individually with them, then pointed to the elderly men and ladies at the back of the classroom: “You see them, they were my children, I loved them then and I love them now!”

Linda Ball, John and Sam Frederick, Ray Chadwick, Tony Sadler and I were among those who visited her for tea, always ready prepared, at her home.  Sam saw her still alert and lively the afternoon before she was taken ill.  His brother, John, said to me he still thinks “what would Miss Ellis say?” when he is thinking things out, an influence for life.

“Make sure you wear out and don’t rust out!”  she told us.  And “keep your face to the sun, and let the shadow fall behind you.”  Thank goodness she did not suffer long at the end of her good and remarkable life.

John Knock Aug 2003