Phyllis Bowles: Norfolk languages teacher inspired generations

A dedicated language teacher, Phyllis Bowles, who died suddenly aged 87 at her Broadland home, inspired generations of children.

She taught at Fakenham Grammar and was deputy headteacher at Thorpe St Andrew, near Norwich, for almost a quarter of a century.

Phyllis Sylvia Bowles, known as PSB, was born in Southtown Road, Great Yarmouth. After the outbreak of the second world war, she was evacuated to Cambridge and later graduated from London University with a degree in modern languages.

She played hockey for Norfolk and was a keen swimmer in her youth.

She became deputy head of Thorpe Grammar at Easter 1958 and expanded from 180 students to about 1,000 in 1977 when it was combined as Thorpe St Andrew High School. She retired in the early 1980s, partly to look after ageing relatives.


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A stern but fair disciplinarian, she was a strict adherent of the school's dress code, which required girls to wear a beret. She taught French and Spanish to 'O' and 'A' level and always encouraged her pupils – in and outside school.

She played a full part in school activities including help with make up and scene-shifting in plays and Gilbert & Sullivan productions.

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Her family moved to Ormesby in 1944. She worshipped at St Michael's, and was treasurer to the parochial council for more than 20 years. In retirement, she taught languages, including Italian to youngsters, and exchanged letters in Spanish with a prisoner on Death Row in the USA. A keen gardener, she had an allotment until two years ago, growing vegetables for friends and neighbours. She enjoyed cruises, which gave her an opportunity to keep up the language skills.

A funeral service will be held at St Michael's Church, Ormesby, on Wednesday, October 16 at 10.30am.

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