Dorothy Bartholomew: Norwich headmistress and Christian Aid campaigner

A great and beloved head mistress and tireless campaigner for Christian Aid, Dorothy Bartholomew, has died at her Norwich home aged 97.

She retired in the centenary year of Norwich High School for Girls in December 1975, when there were more than 730 pupils on the roll. When she announced her retirement, she reflected that the school began at Churchman House in February 1875 with just 61 girls.

During her 22 years as head mistress, the school facilities were extended and in 1973, the Duchess of Kent visited the newly-opened Upper Sixth Form and senior libraries at 10, Albermarle Road.

Born in 1913, she was educated at Grey Coat Hospital, Westminster, and gained an honours degree in English at Westfield College, University of London. After teaching in Sheffield and at Oxford High School, she was appointed by the Girls' Public Day School Trust as head from January 1954.

Unusually, her lengthy tenure also resulted in her teaching many girls and later their daughters. But if she took off her glasses when she addressed the school, her pupils knew that a major reprimand was being delivered.

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In her final prize-giving at St Andrew's Hall in November 1975, she had criticised government policy to scrap all direct grant free places from the following September. 'We, as a school, have always prided ourselves on doing very well by our least academically able as well as by our good middle and our very academic high-fliers,' she said.

Then Dame Kitty Anderson, of the GPDST, paid tribute to her long and distinguished service as a 'great and beloved head mistress' and she was given a standing ovation.

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She remained active into her 90s and was still a governor at Larkman Middle School, when she was appointed MBE in the 1999 Queen's Birthday Honours for her work with the Norwich branch of Christian Aid. She was also involved in the appeal to build a new St Elizabeth's Church.

She became the first woman to be appointed chaplain by the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Maurice Wood, in 1976, to advise on candidates for all types of Christian service. In the same year, she became chairman of the Christian Aid Commission, part of Norwich Council of Churches, in 1976, serving for 16 years.

A great supporter of Norwich Cathedral, she also held fundraising picnics in the Bishop of Norwich's garden.

With typical generosity, she asked that her retirement appeal, which raised almost �9,000, fund the Bartholomew Bursary to help parents meet the cost of school fees.

She leaves six nephews and nieces. A funeral service will be held at Norwich Cathedral on Monday, October 3 at 1.15pm.

Michael Pollitt

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