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Obituary - Former Bidford headteacher, known as Dobbie, was helping others in her 90s

DOROTHY Johnson, a former headteacher at Bidford C of E Primary School, has died aged 99 – 17 days short of what would have been her 100th birthday.

She retired from teaching 40 years ago, aged 60.

Known as ‘Dobbie’ by family members, Mrs Johnson will always be remembered by those who knew her as a very positive person with a keen sense of humour and a zest for life. She never took herself too seriously and encouraged others to do the same.

99-year-old Bidford resident Dorothy Johnson has knitted 2,000 baby bonnets. Photo: Mark Williamson. (56017703)
99-year-old Bidford resident Dorothy Johnson has knitted 2,000 baby bonnets. Photo: Mark Williamson. (56017703)

She was a keen sportswoman in her youth and in later years an avid viewer of sporting events on television such as bowls, snooker, tennis, rugby and athletics.

But perhaps most remarkably, in her late 90s during the pandemic, she knitted a vast quantity of hats for babies born prematurely.

Her carer, Trish Withers, told the Herald: “She was such a genuinely caring person and, although she didn’t have babies of her own, she helped and nurtured hundreds of children through her role as headmistress.

“Through the pandemic to help people she started knitting premature baby hats for hospitals nationwide and actually completed 4,200 hats. I will really miss her. She leaves a big hole.”

Mrs Johnson, who died on 6th September at the Nicol unit at Stratford Hospital, was born on 23rd September, 1922 and lived with her parents, elder sister Phyllis (Phil) and younger brother Richard in the house her father had built on the Bidford side of George’s Elm Lane.

Her father, Edward Horseman was a retired army officer, having served with distinction in the First World War and her mother was a successful and popular primary school teacher, before she devoted herself to her family. Spotting a gap in the market, Ted, as he was known, set up a very successful local milk delivery service.

As an infant, it is understood that Dorothy had difficulty pronouncing her name, which came out as “Dobbie” and that is the name she was known as in her family.

School was an enjoyment for Dorothy and she was very good at a variety of sports. And she played tennis and badminton when she left school.

Her teacher training in Bradford started just before the war. Dorothy was engaged to marry a 19-year-old seaman called Kevin Sullivan from Bradford, but he was killed when his ship, HMS Jaguar, was torpedoed off the island of Malta in March, 1942.

Her first teaching appointment was in Tamworth, where she met her first husband Len Creswick who was working at a nearby school. They came to live in Wixford in a bungalow off George’s Elm Lane in 1950. Dorothy then worked in a school near the old Flower’s Brewery in Stratford, followed by a stint running the nursery at a school on the Warwick Road in Stratford.

Dorothy and Len were eventually divorced.

She developed a relationship with Roger Johnson – a seagoing captain for Shell – and after Roger’s divorce on 21st December 1976, they married on New Year’s Eve, 1976. Unfortunately, Roger became seriously ill in 1984 and died in August 1985.

Dorothy’s nephew Robert McCrorie added: “Dobbie will be greatly missed by us all. She will always be in our hearts.”

He also thanked “all in Bidford and beyond for being her friend”.

Dorothy’s funeral takes place at St Laurence Church in Bidford Tuesday, 27th September at 1.45pm followed by refreshments at the Broom Hall Inn.

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