An important legacy

ONE hundred years ago, on March 1, 1912, Patricia Appleyard was born in West Hartlepool.

After two years’ teacher training in Cambridge she taught briefly in Leeds, then returned to West Hartlepool where she lived most of her life and taught for some 40 years.

Headmistress of Lister Street Infant School, then Jesmond Road Infant School, she retired in the early 1970s.

My first recollection of “Miss Appleyard” was from Jesmond Road in the late 1950s.

She was an effective head, running the school with firm discipline, so it had a good reputation.

She knew every child’s name and made sure we had an excellent education, an important contribution in shaping the lives of hundreds of children over the years.

We all went into the juniors able to read and write and knowing our tables.

Fitting for the late Victorian school building, Miss Appleyard maintained lots of long-standing traditions.

I remember we were a little in awe of her, but there was no reason to be anxious as she had a heart of gold.

As my family’s neighbour, Miss Appleyard had time for the local children and welcomed us at her home without an invitation.

She related her experiences as a teacher and did games and puzzles with us.

In the summer holidays she would take us by train to North Yorkshire to picnic and look for wild flowers.

Her instincts as a teacher were always there – we learned so much from her without realising it was a lesson.

Miss Appleyard’s many interests included embroidery, sewing on a treadle machine, the Telegraph cryptic crossword, bridge, Beatrix Potter’s illustrated stories and friends young and old.

Fond of her garden, she enjoyed the visiting birds and took pleasure in her home-grown vegetables.

She often visited the countryside looking for wild flowers – which fascinated her.

Using this expertise, in the 1960s she contributed to the Durham Flora (a comprehensive record of the wild flowers growing throughout the county) and this work is an important legacy.

There were many anecdotes, such as her being put in a basket under the kitchen table during the bombardment of Hartlepool in December 1914 and her family’s heritage in Northumberland.

Perhaps her favourite tale was about making a Christmas cake with her class of children after they had been evacuated together, each child helping provide the ingredients when food was rationed.

Pat Appleyard died in June 2011 and should be remembered in Hartlepool as a very special lady who gave a great deal to the many children she taught.

She had old-fashioned values with a sense of what was right, which she tried to pass on to everyone she knew.

She was also determined, enthusiastic, always cheerful and – above all – very kind.

Janet Worman (nee Sim),

Westhill Close,