Sylvia Walker – Girls’ Division Staff, 1972 -1993

Sylvia Walker, who taught Mathematics at School for 21 years, was nominated by members of the Girls’ Division Common Room as one of their choices for the 100 Inspiring Minds project, such was the lasting impact of her time at School.

Below, you can read Margaret Dickinson’s obituary for Sylvia, published in the 2005 edition of the Girls’ Division Newsletter.

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Sylvia Walker joined the Mathematics Department in 1972 and, from the start, proved to be an extremely dedicated and hard-working teacher and a popular colleague. A first class mathematician, she taught girls from the Junior School to the Sixth Form, displaying a care and concern for her pupils and an eagerness to help individuals overcome their difficulties.

Students recognised her qualities and responded to her gentle encouragement and support, her patience and her inordinate kindness. One of our former pupils comments: “I am glad that, even though Miss Walker didn’t teach me, I was allowed to be a part of such an inspirational person’s life. We met through the lunchtime Midland Bank sessions outside her office and carried on meeting alter we both left school, as we both lived on Ladybridge.”

Sylvia’s quiet manner and exceptional efficiency were a great source of strength to the school. Former Headmistress, Mrs Spurr, recalls Sylvia’s term of office as Senior Mistress: “I enjoyed her morning visits to my office; she was always calm, even though the pace of early morning at school was anything but!” As Examinations Officer, Sylvia steered the school expertly and with good humour through new and complex administrative systems. Nothing was ever too much trouble for her and she shouldered her many responsibilities capably and without fuss.

When forced to take early retirement on health grounds, Sylvia returned to live in her home town, Lytham, but kept in touch with many of her former pupils and colleagues. During her retirement she wrote a book Time, Like an Ever-Rolling Stream in which she reflected on her own life. She was deeply attached to her parents and sister, Hazel, and visited the USA many times to meet her beloved niece and nephew.

Sylvia showed characteristic courage and dignity in dealing with the diagnosis of breast cancer and bravery in coping when the cancer returned some five years later. She passed away peacefully at her home, having received devoted care from her sister, Hazel, during the final months. I was able to visit Sylvia shortly before she died; it was, as ever, a joy to see her, despite the sadness of the circumstances.

At the funeral, everyone spoke warmly and affectionately about her – each had a story to tell because she was the sort of person who made a difference to people’s lives. A good friend – quite simply, the best – Sylvia is sorely missed by those who knew her.