A FORMER headteacher who saw hundreds of young children through their education during three decades at Sheffield primary schools has died aged 88.
Catherine Ashton was headmistress at Malin Bridge Primary throughout the 1970s, and also taught at Carfield Primary in the 1960s.
Mrs Ashton lived in the same house on Albert Road in Heeley for 40 years with her husband Eric, after the couple moved to Sheffield from Scotland following their marriage in 1948.
Eric was also a teacher, working at Hinde House School in Wincobank and finishing his career as head of English at Wisewood School.
Catherine’s daughter Elizabeth described her mum as a ‘wonderful teacher and amazing woman’.
“Children were the most important thing to her. She was a very caring teacher,” said Elizabeth, 48.
“Lots of people will know her, she was head for a long time.”
Originally from Ayr in Scotland, Catherine started teacher training aged 19 in Glasgow, but had to put career plans on hold when she was called up to serve in the Second World War after completing a year of her course.
She served as a radio operator at Fulbeck Hall in Lincolnshire, and also met her future husband during her time in the military.
“My mother’s boyfriend was shot by a sniper - she was very traumatised by that and was about to be demobbed when she was taken to a dance. Dad happened to be at the dance as well, and that’s where they met,” Elizabeth said.
“After leaving the army mum went back to Glasgow to finish her teacher training. She made my dad wait!”
Eric, formerly a steel industry metallurgist, was an army munitions disposal expert and trained as a teacher after the war.
“When the war was over Britain was desperate for teachers, so a one-year training course was offered. My mum worked to put my dad through the course,” said Elizabeth, a former theatre actor who now teaches communication and behavioural skills.
The couple retired together in the early 1980s, and moved in 2006 to Blackheath, London, to be near Elizabeth. Eric died in 2007 aged 86, after 58 years of marriage.
The couple had three children - Elizabeth, Ross, 50, and Jim, 54.
“Mum was a bit of an expert, she did an Open University degree when she was in her 50s, and then when she was in her 70s graduated with an MA from Sheffield Hallam University,” Elizabeth said.
“She often used to do lectures on how children learn in their pre-school years.
“She was great at encouraging us to do our best. We all went on to further education - she wanted us to achieve our potential.”
Catherine died of a heart attack on September 19. A funeral service will be held on October 17 at 2.15pm at St Margaret’s Church in Lee, London.