You will see several references to Margaret Lazonby in the 2015 edition. She must surely have been the oldest member of The Association before her death last year at the age of 103. Barbara Ingham has fond memories of her as a PE teacher and kept in touch with her for many years.
I was contacted after her death by a gentleman called John, who was, in the absence of any family, the executor of her will. He told a heart-warming story of how he had taken over as Miss Lazonby’s postman some years ago and been told by his predecessor that he must keep an eye on her. She was a very independent lady but obviously needed assistance on occasions and he enjoyed listening to her stories, which included many about her time at Crossley and Porter.
Apparently when Miss Lazonby was admitted to hospital after a fall and the only contact information she had with her was for her plumber, a friend of John’s, the two men and their families developed a greater involvement with her everyday life. As she grew more frail, they ‘fought her corner’ with the authorities, ensuring that her wishes were not ignored and that eventually she was able to pass away in her own home.
John told me that, although she had taught in several other schools, it was Crossleys that was closest to her heart and they found several photos and papers which might be of interest. I then put them in touch with the school, as they expressed a desire to commemorate her passing in some way. It was decided that they would buy a matching bench to the one The Association had purchased to mark 150 years.
At the beginning of March, John, Chris and their wives made the journey to Halifax from Warwickshire for the weekend to visit the school and see the bench in situ. I was able to show them around the grounds and match up some of the views in their photos of Miss Lazonby and her pupils. They were overawed by the building and its history and began to understand more about her fondness for the place. We then visited rooms that she might have taught in, finding the very vaulting horse pictured, and the archives.
They brought with them some more papers relating to her time at Crossleys, including a testimonial written by Miss Richardson (Headmistress 1930 to 1951) and a teacher’s record book, which also documents annual salary - £183 for 1936/7, rising to just over £1000 by 1959. She received an initial bonus of £9 ‘for training’, which presumably relates to her three years at Chelsea College of Physical Education. They also brought with them some of her ashes and we decided that she would probably have spent happy times on the grass tennis courts, when she lived in at the school and we scattered the ashes in the rhododendrons around there.
I then took them to see Barbara Ingham and they were able to get a more personal insight into the younger Margaret Lazonby. The visitors were very grateful to have seen the place that they had been told so much about and we must thank them for the gift of the commemorative bench.