Tributes to Amy Morris
Following the announcement of the sad death of Amy Morris on 10th November 2017, tributes have been pouring in from Amy’s former pupils, colleagues and friends. We published a selection of the tributes below in the 2017 Withington Onwards magazine alongside an obituary written by Monica Hastings. Due to limited space in the magazine, these were abbreviated. Below, you can see all of the written tributes to Amy in full…
“As a colleague for three years and a friend for 31 I can say that her friendship was one of Withington’s best gifts. I loved the way Amy was, as we all did; she was warm and kind (and cross, too: you couldn’t be her friend and not know that) and interested in us all, children and grandchildren, too. She respected people for what they were and never said you should do this or that but offered her real easy going support through trouble, if she sensed that was what you wanted. And we always had the public transport bond; the last time we met was in October for coffee and a natter in Chorlton; then Amy went to her bus in one direction plus bag and stick and me (I, sorry, Amy!) in the other. How many cardboard mugs of coffee have we drunk on Stockport station. How many pizzas shared and plays seen.
Amy’s concern was for the other person; independent to the end she hated any kind of fussing round herself and brushed off any praise. When gallants tried to help her onto the train over a mind the (big) gap (platform 1 Cheadle Hulme) she would have none of it and pulled herself up; all I could say was don’t disturb her, just stand behind to catch! Yes, Amy was a risk taker; we might worry about her, but she didn’t. So it was wonderful (and a relief) she passed on as she did, listening to her beloved music and with plans for the future. Amy, as we know, didn’t do doctors or take tablets, but she directed one to a very good cough mixture from Holland and Barrett’s. Did she not once swig the like from a bottle on her desk?
A lover of the countryside, especially of her native Northumbria, delighting in the tiniest flower (whose Latin name she always knew), and prepared to defend every inch of the green belt; that was Amy. And what a root digger-out; the week she died she had been at it…not ground elder but something akin..should you be doing it…need the exercise. She was looking forward to sending cards with hellebores and similar and was getting into full gear. All the messages she wrote individually inside cards were not getting any easier but she was determined to do it still. Amy was well informed on so many things, the state of the world and ours, and cricket and football. And of course the GRAMMAR endorsed by Radio 4 was a cause for concern; I think she had almost given up on I was stood and I was sat but, to quote one example, different than drove her mad. It is not a comparative!
I am not very good at expressing this, but the giving of little presents with thoughtful kindness was so special about Amy. She would delve into her bag of shopping and bring out a packet of nuts, for example, if she divined you liked them. Remember the two scented roses, carefully wrapped in appropriately soggy paper, so that she could share the pleasure of them with you. Over time, George, my husband, was the recipient of many bars of dark chocolate; a myriad of brands we had never heard of, they came from wherever she found them…. corner shops and Stockport market. Half of them were out of date, which was Amy’s apology; but all passed muster.
When I last spoke to her she had been into Waterstone’s (Stockport, where else) looking at children’s books (Clarice Bean was mentioned) and doing other things including buying a poppy, one of those small metal ones that don’t fall off, as I remember. With a chuckle she said there she was, encumbered with bags and stick so the seller held her up on one side so she could pin it in. Amy, we love you….”
Catherine Bankes, Former WGS Teacher
“Founders’ Day and containing kind words about the event and supportive words for the future. I received many such cards from Amy, characteristically saying ‘no reply necessary’, and she never failed to remember my birthday. Such thoughtfulness is prominent in my memories of Amy as are her bright-eyed smiles; her intelligence and breadth of knowledge and interests – when I told her Ron and I were going to Western Australia last year she immediately put me in touch with Michael Fey and thus with a wildflower expert ‘down under’; her fear that few would remember her at school reunions when she inevitably ended up surrounded by past pupils with wonderful tales to tell about their time under her guidance – and anecdotes about her accurate aim with chalk; her love of opera and and many other genres of music, including the Northumbrian pipes; her independence; her positive nature and the consistent pleasure of being in her company. How wonderful that she should leave us on her terms, without fuss or bother – but she does leave us with a sense of loss; she will be much missed and never forgotten.”
Janet Pickering, Former Headmistress
“Miss Morris was one of my favourite teachers, not least for her flying chalk! She was always kind, wanting the best for her pupils, academically and personally, and was especially supportive of me at a time of deep loss. It’s been wonderful to spend time with her at recent reunions and she’ll be greatly missed at future events.”
Katharine Douglas Furner (née Douglas, 1971)
“My first memories of Miss Morris are from when she taught us Latin in IIIX. I remember her clear voice as she explained this new subject, pointing out its relevance to English and other languages: I enjoyed her lessons very much. Miss Morris was our form mistress in the Upper Sixth and she was very kind to me. I shall always remember her words then and the advice she gave to us girls on our final day at school. It was lovely to see her again at her 90th birthday party. Miss Morris was a kind and inspiring teacher: she was, is, unforgettable.”
Rachel A Savin (née Sen, 1973)
“As my Latin teacher in the Lower Fourth to Upper Fifth, she was interesting, effective and humorous. When I went back to school as a young teacher, she was supportive, put me at ease, and again humorous. Her memory was astonishing. When I met her at school again, after several decades, she remembered me, recognising my name. She remarked, ‘You were in the Lower Fourth when I came, and you came back to teach in the English department with Joyce (Boucher), then you moved away to South Wales.’ All true. I remember her zest for life, her interest in opera, people, places. Above all, her interest in school.”
Anne Lloyd (née Woodcock, 1955)
“What a lovely lady! She taught me all the way through school and was my form mistress in the Sixth Form. Thereafter, she sent me a Christmas card and newsletter every year. I can see her at school, back to the class, writing on the blackboard, as clearly as if it were yesterday. She would then sit at her desk and, if someone was caught dreaming, a piece of well-aimed chalk would wake her up!
At school, she wasn’t just a teacher, she was someone who cared about the wellbeing of all the girls she taught. As a form mistress she looked out for me at a time when things were difficult. I had a long journey to and from school (my family moved to Bolton when I was in Lower Fifth, but I chose to stay at Withington). I remember one time she marched me to a small room where there were scales and weighed me, just to make sure I wasn’t wasting away!
So, we exchanged cards and letters every Christmas. After our first daughter was born, I started to send a photo with all our Christmas cards. Amy’s card and letter would be one of the last to arrive and always started with apologies for being badly organised. I loved that, as I have felt badly organised all my life. She then told me her news and always showed so much interest in mine. She was supportive of our growing family (five daughters) and of my decision to be a stay at home mum. She never told me that I’d wasted my university degree (as some did).
More recently, we met up at school reunions. It was always a joy to grab five minutes to catch up. Then three years ago Hilary White (née Fitch) and I met up with Amy at the café in Manchester Town Hall. We thoroughly enjoyed lunch together accompanied with lots of chatting! That will be my fondest recent memory. Miss Morris, you were the best! May you rest in peace.”
Ruth Loxham (née Whittaker, 1969)
“I couldn’t have chosen a better form mistress than Miss Morris when I arrived as a new girl in 3Y in 1954. A school life later, as part of a small group of 8, she played a large part in in my passing A Level Latin, which still impresses friends to this day! I attended some WGS alumnae events over the years and she remembered me as the ‘one who lives out in the sticks’ on the way to Higher Bentham where she had friends. I’m so pleased I came to her 90th celebrations last year.”
Jill Scott (née Frobisher, 1961)
“I first met Amy Morris when I started at WGS in 1962, she was our Latin teacher through to O Level, then my form tutor in the Sixth Form. So many memories of her; her energy and enthusiasm, her ability to smell a mint at 50 metres, her insistence on fresh air… flinging windows open to wake us all up and to disperse the minty scent! There was her unerring aim with a piece of chalk and our suspicion that she had eyes in the back of her head for the ‘over the shoulder’ throw. I’m sure she threw the blackboard rubber once or twice but she insisted that this was a myth! Latin tests, retests for the lazy, the reprimands for messy handwriting, her ready laughter and her care for ‘her’ girls.
Out of school there was the hiking club, meeting up in Stockport for a top deck ride to Chinley or Hayfield on a Saturday or Sunday morning. As a teacher Miss Morris was firm, very honest in her appraisal of our work but supportive, she gave her time to those in her form who needed it. My mother was in hospital when I was preparing for A Levels. Amy could not have been kinder or more practical; looking after the shopping money, informing other staff, arranging for me to have extra time for assignments or homework when necessary and always checking that I was managing to cope with both schoolwork and responsibilities at home.
We kept in touch sporadically at first. I wrote letters when travelling abroad and told her of my experiences as a teacher in a large comprehensive. She loved travelling and often described her adventures and her walking holidays. Gradually the correspondence grew. I used to receive six-page letters of thoughtful comment on education policies, comparisons of comprehensive education and WGS and much encouragement when I faced the inevitable teaching challenges. She was a wonderful letter-writer!
Once I retired, Ruth Loxham (née Whittaker) and I met Amy a couple of times in Manchester for lunch. She remembered so much about our partners, families and activities, showing genuine interest. When we mentioned others from our year group she knew exactly who we meant; no mean feat when you consider the number of students she must have worked with throughout her lifetime.
Amy Morris valued her students, she was truly interested in their achievements and progress. WGS was her life but it did not mean that she was one-dimensional; she had her own interests, strong opinions and a sense of the ridiculous! She started as a teacher and became a friend: that is what made her so special.”
Hilary White (née Fitch, 1969)
“UVX. 1974. Road to Latin Vol2, Ovid’s Metamorphoses. ‘She flees swifter than the light breeze and does not stop at these words of Peneus (girlie giggling) as he says….’ Killer Queen, Band on the Run and Diamond Dogs.
Miss Morris had been our Latin teacher for 4 years and knew us better than we knew ourselves. Less formal than Mrs Hill (Salvete puellae, Salve tu quoque magistra) she generally arrived about 8 minutes late, dramatically entering in large pullover, long skirt and sensible shoes carrying our marked homework efforts in an unstable pile of exercise books stacked open at the relevant exercise. She had amazing red hair and freckles which somehow made her more on our level..at a time when knowing a teacher’s first name was considered subversive. She sat on ‘our’ side of the teachers desk (radical) was funny and very challenging at the same time and used a variety of attention seeking devices. These included suddenly jumping up to scrawl round and round the rotating rubber blackboard (declensions, subjunctives, how many perfect tenses did the Romans need?), theatrically walking to window to follow the wandering gaze of the classically challenged and even throwing small but perfectly aimed pieces of chalk.
She gave us the priceless gift of understanding grammar, clarity of language, linguistic predictability and elegance and some understanding of what the Romans actually did for us.
She was warm, generous, kind and really cared about everyone of us. She believed that we all had something to give the world and she was there to enable us to do that.
Miss Morris grew up in a world where girls education, and especially for ordinary Manchester girls like us, was not widely supported. But women like her dedicated their lives to our future. She was a true feminist pioneer who believed that better educated women can make the world a better place. Miss Morris, gratias tibi et requiesce in pace.”
Sandra Oelbaum (née Cohen, 1976)
“I have many happy memories of Amy both from school and beyond. At the last reunion, she reveled in the fact that several of the girls still had Latin declensions coming out of their ears, even after about 35 years! She loved teaching so much and it showed in her passion for her subject and for the caring way in which she took such an interest in our progress both in school and long after we left Withington. I shall never forget her for this, her remedy for hiccups (a spoonful of sugar) or for the daily vision when in Form III (as we stood on the pipes in Room 1 in order to reach the window) of her cheerily cycling into school every morning after her morning swim. Inevitably, the next thing we would hear was ‘Girls, don’t stand on the pipes!’ but this was an almost daily occurrence and an important part of our routine! A lovely lady and passionate teacher and I will miss her beaming smile very much.”
Jane Bernstein (née Solomon, 1985)
“Miss Morris was a very dedicated teacher who possessed a love of the Latin language, which she imparted to her pupils.”
Ann Fairman (1961)
“Miss Morris will, I’m sure, always be remembered most fondly by my form members and myself, not just because she was our lovely Latin teacher for all those years but because she was our form teacher during our first year at WGS. How lucky we were to have such a role model – gentle, funny (in her own quiet way), erudite and kind.”
Tricia David (née Cullen, 1960)
“Miss Morris: energetic, indomitable, kind-hearted and forever young at heart. In the ’70s when I returned to WGS in the Lower IV after a year abroad, she took the time to tutor me at lunchtimes to help me catch up on the year I had missed. (I still recall the flying chalk she would send our way if mistakes were made conjugating a verb!) In recent years I had the pleasure of meeting her several times. The twinkle in her eyes was always there. A truly unforgettable lady.”
Chandreyi Parkin (née Gupta, 1985)
“’Floral dresses, sandals, red hair and a ready smile. Bicycle with a big basket on the front. Firm but very fair.’ These were the words that first came to mind when I reflected on Miss Morris as I remember her from my school days.
Miss Morris was form teacher to my class in the first year at secondary school and there could not have been a better choice of form teacher for 30+ eleven-year-olds drawn from a wide range of primary schools. She was warm-hearted, encouraging and understanding. Of course, we thought she was quite old at the time, but I realise now that she can have been only 28 then!
She also gave us an excellent grounding in Latin and I remain grateful for my education in this classical language through which I learnt so much grammar which provided the basis for so many other languages. I always enjoyed the subject even though I am no linguist.
Miss Morris was also House Mistress for Herford, ‘my’ house, and I would argue that she was one of the, if not the, most supportive of House Mistresses. As with all that she did, she was always there at house events, supportive and encouraging through the good and the not-so-good times.
I have many happy memories of my years at WGS and I shall always be grateful to Miss Morris for her guidance and encouragement during that all-important first year.”
Catherine Wilson (née Meredith, 1962)
“I am deeply saddened to hear of Amy Morris’s recent death, and her passing signals the end of a wonderful era for myself and many other former WGS girls who were inspired by her love of her subject and her dynamism. She will never be forgotten.”
Sally Spedding (née Wolff, 1959)
“Miss Morris was a remarkable and memorable teacher. Right from those first days of Latin lessons in IIIX she gave me a real interest in and love of the subject that took me through to Latin A Level and also some medieval Latin at university. I remember in one of our first lessons she told me that my name was a Latin gerundive! I also remember her love of plants and flowers. On one occasion, she told us about Redoute’s paintings of roses.
I went to study history at Westfield College, University of London in 1973. When I arrived, I was allocated a shared room in a hall of residence. On the first day, my room-mate, Helen and I chatted about ourselves. She was from Durham. When I told her I was from Manchester, she said that her Auntie Amy taught Latin at a girls’ school in Manchester. Needless to say, Auntie Amy and Miss Morris were one and the same! To add to the coincidence, Auntie Amy was not a relative but a friend of Helen’s mother and they had met when they were both at Durham University.
I think Miss Morris heard about this from Helen’s mother and always remembered it. I was so impressed that, although I only saw Miss Morris a handful of times at reunions during the forty years since I left school until the last time I saw her in 2013, she always remembered me and the link with Helen.”
Amanda Brown (née Collins, 1973)
A memorial service for Amy Morris will be held at Withington on Saturday 3rd February 2018 at 11.15am. The service will be open to any of Amy’s friends, former pupils and colleagues who would like to join us. If you would like to attend, please informt the Development Office on 0161 249 3494 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org