Obituary: Audrey Haigh

Former Kirklees headteacher and long-standing member of Huddersfield Thespians

Former Kirklees headteacher and long-standing member of the Huddersfield Thespians Audrey Haigh

Former Kirklees headteacher and long-standing member of the Huddersfield Thespians, Audrey Haigh, has died at the age of 87.

Audrey was born in Moldgreen and after leaving school at the age of 14 went to work first in a leather goods factory, then as a tracer at David Brown Tractors in Meltham Mills.

Her marriage to Alan Haigh, of Meltham, saw her relocate to that village, where she was to live for the rest of her life.

Three children – Hilary, Richard and Dorinda – kept Audrey occupied at home for several years. She returned to work at David Brown Tractors, but her long-held ambition to become a teacher was realised at last in 1974 after a change of job took her to Meltham Primary School as a classroom assistant. Encouraged by the teaching staff there she gained O and A-level qualifications at evening classes and was offered a place at Oastler College in Huddersfield to train as a teacher.

The Wilson government’s policy of supporting older people in their bid to return to education gave her the opportunity she had been denied as a teenager. She was finally able to join the profession at the age of 48 and after teaching in several Kirklees schools became headteacher at St Luke’s C of E School in Cleckheaton.

Her energy and creativity as a teacher drove her involvement in multi-cultural education in the Huddersfield area. Her keen interest in the local history of the West Riding led to a close working relationship with both the Colne Valley Museum at Golcar and Clarke Hall Educational Museum near Wakefield.

She took many groups of schoolchildren to Clarke Hall, and its recent closure would have saddened her. She believed firmly in the power of education to transform the lives of the children she taught, especially those who, like her, may have started out with limited opportunities. She drew on all her interests in music, drama, and the arts to add richness to the basic curriculum. Audrey was often approached by former pupils who wanted to tell her how much they had enjoyed school under her guidance.

She was a long-standing and active member of the Holmfirth Amateur Dramatic Society and the Huddersfield Thespians and was widely known as a talented actor and director and her many productions included “The Railway Children”, which gave several young actors their first chance at a major role on a bigger stage.

After her retirement from teaching she continued to follow her interests in literature, art and music with the University of the Third Age and the Workers Educational Association.

Audrey always believed that you were never too old to learn new things, and enthusiastically supported the cause of lifelong learning. She also loved to spend time with her five grandchildren,

 
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