Fund launched in memory of much loved Crudwell teacher

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Former Crudwell Primary School head teacher Valerie Berry Former Crudwell Primary School head teacher Valerie Berry

A £5,000 fund to help children in the Malmesbury area has been set up in memory of a much-loved primary school teacher.

Handed over to Malmesburry Community Trust, the anonymous donation, commemorates Valerie Berry, who was known to generations of pupils at Crudwell School.

Mrs Berry, who died in May last year, moved to Startley 60 years ago when her husband David, an RAF pilot, was stationed at Lyneham and spent 15 years at the school as a teacher, deputy head and finally head teacher.

“A typical result of this was that she could not walk down Malmesbury High Street without being stopped by parents and ex-pupils. Valerie was held in high regard,” said community trust clerk Phil Rice.

During her 48 years in Wiltshire Mrs Berry was a trustee of the Malmesbury Community Trust, lending her education expertise because it was a cause close to her heart.

“For that reason an anonymous donor has given £5000 for the setting up of a Valerie Berry Memorial Fund within the accounts of the trust,” he explained. “It is anticipated that, from this, an annual sum will be spent to assist children in the area.”

She had wanted to become a teacher since leaving school at 16, but it wasn’t until the youngest of her four children - born at the old Malmesbury Hospital - was old enough to go to school in 1970 that she was able to start training for her Teacher’s Certificate.

Head of Crudwell School Frank Jowitt acted as an unofficial mentor and it was at his school that she took her first tentative steps on the road to becoming a fully qualified teacher.

Increased bureaucracy in teaching and the fact that she was now a grandmother to 16 children persuaded her it was time to retire in 1987.

When husband David, who used to fly Britannia aircraft out of Lyneham and later became an author and publisher, finally retired from the RAF in 1991, the couple became motorcaravanners.

Eleven years ago they shipped their motorhome over to Florida and spent six months travelling coast to coast and back.

Three years ago they were both told they would need major surgery for cancer and the decision was made to move north to be closer to their daughter Alison in Nottinghamshire.

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