Kenilworth headteacher who ‘loved children’ dies

Barbara McLauchlan in 2003

Barbara McLauchlan in 2003

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A retired headteacher who lived in Kenilworth for much of her life has died at the age of 93.

Barbara McLauchlan, who moved to Kenilworth in 1962, was heavily involved in the town’s community during her life.

Barbara on a mountaineering trip

Barbara on a mountaineering trip

She was secretary of the Kenilworth Society from 1987 to 1992, secretary of the Kenilworth Council of Churches from 1988 to 1990 and chairman of the council from 1991 to 1993.

She was also a prominent attendee of St Nicholas Church during her life.

Although Barbara had no children, her younger cousin Hilary said she was devoted to those she taught.

She added: “Her pupils were her children. She was devoted to them.

“Her most memorable qualities were her openess, her mind and her love of young people.

“My enduring memory of Barbara is as a teacher. A few weeks before she died, we were discussing our grandchildren, and all of the questions from her were school-related.

“She asked me ‘what stage they were at in their schooling? What kind of schools? How they were doing?’”

She was born in Birmingham on November 1 1922 to father James, a worker for the Post Office, and mother Ethel, a teacher herself.

She attended King Edward VI High School for Girls, and was evacuated to Cheltenham when the war started to complete her studies.

Barbara strongly missed her family during this time so upon returning decided to study English at Birmingham University. She earned a teaching diploma at Hughes Hall, Cambridge and started her career as a teacher,

Starting at Wallesey High School for Girls in Cheshire, Barbara progressed to become head of the English department at Harrison Barrow Girls’ Grammar School in Birmingham and then deputy headmistress at Tudor Grange Grammar School in Solihull.

She loved the literature she taught to her pupils and she would recite poetry of Keats, Wordsworth and Tennyson or quote long passages from Shakespeare.

In 1972 she moved to Stoke Park School in Coventry where she was headmistress. She oversaw its transition from a girls’ grammar school to a mixed comprehensive school and eventually to a community college.

Hilary added: “These changes demanded huge organisational skills, resilience and compassion alongside her expertise in education and teaching.”

Barbara retired from teaching in 1984 at the age of 62.

In her spare time, Barbara was a keen mountaineer and birdwatcher.

She joined the Midland Association of Mountaineers in 1945 and became its second female president in 1973.

Barbara also enjoyed many happy times as a member of West Midlands Bird Club which took her on many trips around the world, including to Antarctica.

As Barbara aged and her health declined, her eyesight began to fail.

Not to be deterred, she overcame her difficulties with courage and determination and, supported by kindly neighbours and church friends, Barbara lived in her own home in Elizabeth Way independently and with dignity. She only left it a few weeks before she died.

Her funeral and requiem will be held in St Nicholas Church on Friday 15 July at 1pm followed by cremation at Canley, Coventry at 2.30pm.