Friends urged to join colourful Norfolk artist Ruthli’s final farewell

A final farewell to a Norfolk artist and teacher is set to be as colourful and surprising as she was.

Ruthli Losh-Atkinson, who died on Sunday aged 77, planned her own funeral after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in October.

The mother-of-two, who lived 'like a permanent art student', told husband Douglas: 'There will be sad bits, of course, but no dark suits. Encourage everyone into weird and brightly-coloured outfits for an unconventional event.'

She will be carried there by a Harley Davidson and sidecar and followed by her beloved Ariel motorcycle.

Her 75-year-old husband, with whom she spent 59 years, said: 'It's been a privilege to have lived with her and enjoyed such an intensely exciting life all these years. We couldn't have squashed a single thing more in.'

Known as a motorcycle enthusiast, as well as an artist and teacher at Neatherd High School in Dereham, her husband said: 'She had no trouble with the 'likely lads', who would eat out of her hands because of her big vintage Aerial motorbike.'

The diminutive Mrs Losh-Atkinson taught art and English from 1977 until her retirement in 1988 at Neatherd High School and was a senior year head.

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Fellow art teacher Annette McIntosh said she was admired by her pupils. She said: 'She was a very good teacher. She was very creative and very energetic, very competent and very caring. She was a bombshell.'

Mrs McIntosh visited her friend every week while she was in hospital and said, just a week before her death, her vibrant personality still shone through despite her illness.

She added: 'What was lovely was that we saw her last week and she was very serene and peaceful.'

Throughout her life, Mrs Losh-Atkison craved 'atmosphere' and would head out in storms to capture the feel of Norfolk, where she moved to in 1970 because of its 'artists' light'.

She would often head to the beach to draw figures. Mr Losh-Atkinson, who was also an artist and art teacher, said: 'You have a host of free models, more or less, on the beach.'

Mrs Losh-Atkinson sought out excitement and travelled to the Arctic four times, including a final time aged 74. She also taught in Czechoslovakia soon after the fall of Communism.

The Swiss-born artist was a well-known member of the Norwich 20 Group of artists and the Norfolk and Norwich Art Circle.

Friend and fellow artist Chedgey, 71, said: 'When I first met her, I figured her as one of the weave-your-own-knickers brigade, but she was much more Hell's Angel than that. She was an amazing woman, amazingly talented.'

She leaves husband Douglas, daughters Wendy and Erica, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Her funeral is on Saturday April 9 at Colney Woodland Burial Park at 2pm. No flowers, but donations can be made to the Neurological Research Fund, via Co-operative Funeral Care, Bury Road, Thetford, IP24 3AW.

People with motorbikes and unusual cars are asked to join the procession from Welsford Road, Eaton Rise.

Mr Losh Atkinson added: 'If you knew Ruthli, please, if not too far away, be there for the colourful send-off she asked for.'

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