Tributes paid to ‘charismatic’ former South Shields headteacher

Evelyn Winship
Evelyn Winship

Moving tributes have been paid to a “well-respected” former headteacher and governor at a South Tyneside primary school.

Evelyn Winship dedicated her life to ensuring that pupils at Biddick Hall Junior School, South Shields, were offered the best education.

She was a well-respected lady who will be sadly missed by the whole school community and by myself personally.

Michelle Collinson

First as headteacher and later - following her retirement in 1992 after 14 years at the top - as a school governor.

The 85-year-old died on February 2, following a stroke leaving her sister Marion and friends shocked and devastated.

Miss Winship, who was a former general secretary of the local branch of the National Headteachers Association, had attended a meeting at the school in Chesterton Road the previous evening.

Current headteacher Michelle Collinson said: “Evelyn was a valued member of our school community who dedicated herself to inspiring the children in Biddick Hall to achieve the best they could possibly be.

“She has been a invaluable support to myself during my time here, in particular the last nine years in my role as headteacher.

“She was a well-respected lady who will be sadly missed by the whole school community and by myself personally.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”

Miss Winship, who lived in Ashley Road, South Shields, was also a founder member of the South Tyneside Churches Together Key Project.

The project was created to support young people aged 16-25, who are experiencing hardship and are threatened with homelessness.

Miss Winship helped to create West Harton Churches Action Stations, set up with the aim of helping to improve the quality of life for people in South Tyneside.

Along with close friend Dorothy Clarke, she also founded and ran Open Door Community Care, based in Low Simonside, Jarrow.

Miss Clarke said: “She really enjoyed her work. She was one of those people who always liked to keep herself busy.

“She did have to slow down a few years ago after she took a fall. But she never give up where the school was concerned.”

Ian Mills, who was Miss Winship’s deputy head, said: “Evelyn took over as headteacher in 1979. The headmaster before her was a kind of like a Sergeant Major. Evelyn had a totally different personality.

“She was much warmer, led the school successfully and took it into a new era.

“She was a very charismatic lady and, over the years, developed a great affinity with the pupils, staff and the wider community.

“She was a very important figure in my own development, she was very supportive of myself and we were great friends.”

Reverend Deborah Wainright, of West Harton Methodist Church, where Miss Winship was a steward, said: “She has been a faithful member of the church for many years and was instrumental in the setting up of the Action Stations and the Key project.

“She was well-respected and the congregation is really feeling her loss.

“She devoted herself to the church, and the fact the local authority is allowing the school to close so staff can attend her funeral is a testament to how well respected and well-thought-of she was.”

Miss Winship’s funeral will take place at 10.30am on Friday, February 23, at West Harton Methodist Church in South Shields.