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'She gave generously and selflessly to the school'

Diana Brownhill
Diana Brownhill

A MUCH-LOVED and respected Stratfordian, Diana Brownhill, died unexpectedly at her home on Easter Sunday.

Diana spent all her working life in Stratford-upon-Avon, and embedded herself in the community.

In 1970, she took up a geography post at Stratford Girls’ Grammar School.

Later she was awarded a Teaching Fellowship at St Hilda’s College, in Oxford. She found this experience both stimulating and rewarding, and it fed very positively into her teaching.

In 1990, she was made head of sixth form and subsequently assistant headteacher. This was the most rewarding part of her career.

Over the years, Diana found time to run 20 school trips to the Netherlands and 12 to Italy, inspiring girls with her love of both countries.

In 2008, on the occasion of the school’s 50th anniversary, Diana was presented with a Lifetime’s Achievement Award, in recognition of the dedicated professional and caring guidance she had given the girls. She was recognised as Educator of the Year at the Pride of Stratford Awards in 2012.

Diana retired reluctantly in 2012, but continued to give advice to individual students, when asked, and in a consultative capacity at St Benedict’s High School, in Alcester.

Her interest and involvement with the grammar school continued, as an active member of friends of the school and as chairman of the Alumnae Association.

Most of Diana’s energies were given to the school, but she also involved herself fully in the town.

Her love of music was shown in her active membership of the Stratford Choral Society and Stratford Chamber Music Society.

Retirement gave Diana an opportunity to pursue her cultural interests further, as a member of Stratford-upon-Avon Decorative and Fine Arts Society (Stradfas) and a friend of the Orchestra of the Swan.

Diana had a full and rewarding life. The respect and affection in which she was held by former students was shown when her death was announced on Facebook, receiving more than 90 hits in the first hour, with many glowing tributes.

Tributes included “Goodness knows how many lives she touched in her time. She was a truly wonderful lady,” as well as “Di was the embodiment of Shottery… Shottery was her life and her care and thoughtfulness were immense.”

Kate Barnett, head of the grammar school, said Diana had a huge impact on the school over her 42 years of dedicated service, helping to shape its caring ethos - and not least its close family sense of community.

Ms Barnett said: “Unfailingly warm-spirited, she gave generously and selflessly to the school and all the individuals within it.

“She oversaw the passage of thousands of girls through the senior part of the school, and her wisdom and guidance were invaluable in forging the career paths and futures of all of them.

“Generations of girls remember her with enormous affection, and the whole school, including parents, recognise the fantastic contribution she made over so many years.”

Diana leaves a loving family, who live in Sweden, and many grieving friends.

A private family funeral, and a memorial service and celebration of life will be held.

Details are set to be announced.

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