Memories of a much-loved CofE headteacher

Alice at the time of her 100th birthday at the Great Moor house she called home for 53 years from 1963 to 2016.

Tributes and memories have been shared of a much-loved former Church of England headteacher ahead of her funeral on Monday 26 June at St George’s Church, Stockport.

Alice Ramsbottom, who died in May at the age of 108, joined St George’s Church of England Primary in Stockport in 1962 and later became the headteacher before she retired in 1980.

The Vicar of St George’s, Stockport, the Revd Canon Elaine Chegwin Hall will take the funeral and says she has received many “joyous” emails from former pupils who have given an “insight into what she was like as a teacher” and provided the community with a “lovely link to her work and ministry in our school". 

Pat Wilke, a local resident, attended the school with her siblings when Mrs Ramsbottom was the headteacher and remembers her clearly: “She had a huge box of dolly mixtures in her room. Children would be called to her room for a special reason or good work and allowed to dip into the box and take a few. If it was your birthday you were taken to her office after assembly and allowed to pick out a sweet for every year of your life, plus one extra.”

Former pupil, Barry Thompson, said: “She was a diminutive figure with a massive heart. I remember her so fondly as my first teacher who was so loving. I used to love reading to her, especially Billy Goat Gruff!”

Mrs Ramsbottom, headteacher at St George’s school. Date unknown.

As a headteacher, Mrs Ramsbottom was “strict but fair” according to one pupil who remembers her imposing a strict ban on chewing gum: “There was a ban on chewing gum, and she came into the dining room to check. I had the gum in my cardigan sleeve to avoid detection and then had to put it in the freezer to remove it.”

As well as a former Stockport headteacher Alice Ramsbottom was a beloved sister, wife, mother, and grandmother.

Born on 13 February 1915, Alice grew up with her family in Burnley, Lancashire, the second youngest of six children. One of her earliest memories was of feeling scared when soldiers in uniform appeared in the neighbourhood; she thought the Great War had come to her town, only to realise that they were returning after the conflict had ended.

After leaving school she went to Ripon College to train as a teacher, qualifying in 1935.

Later she met her husband, Jack Ramsbottom, at a dance – Alice was an avid dancer – and they married at St Cuthbert’s Church in Burnley, a short walk from the family home on Peart Street, in 1942, the wartime unforms very evident in the photos.

Alice and Jack’s wedding, Saturday 27 June, 1942, St Cuthbert’s Church, Burnley.

Jack and Alice lived in Burnley, then moved for a short time to Barrow-in-Furness, then to the south of Manchester, eventually Stockport but initially in Levenshulme. Here they started a family, Judith coming along first and Jill a few years later. After a short time spent raising the girls, Alice returned to teaching, first at Birchfields School in Fallowfield in 1959, and then to St George’s Primary, Stockport in 1962. By 1975 she had become headteacher before retiring in 1980.

Sadly, Jack died in 1986, but Alice continued to live in the beloved family home in Great Moor, Stockport for many years.

Alice loved driving and kept her car on the driveway, a rock from the front garden underneath the back wheel to stop it sliding back onto the road, and, for many years, a brown trilby of Jack’s on the parcel shelf at the back. She was still giving lifts to grateful grandchildren and elderly – though much younger! - friends from St George’s into her 90s.

In 2016 she had a fall and left her home for the last time, at 101, to live at Fernlea, a care home not far away in Hazel Grove. She lived there for the last few years of her life, superbly well looked after by the team, keeping her energy up with a constant supply of kit-kats and jelly babies provided by her daughter Jill, and surrounded by photos of family, and framed cards from the Queen and, this year, the King.

Alice died on 27 May 2023. She is survived by her daughter, Jill, her son-in-law, Hugh and her grandchildren, Christopher and Rachel.

Her funeral will be held at St George’s on Monday 26 June 2023.

Page last updated: Friday 23rd June 2023 1:06 PM
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