Frances Williams will be greatly missed by everyone


Frances Williams 29.03.1943 – 31.12.2014

Harrogate Grammar School is sad to announce that Miss Frances Williams, teacher of Mathematics, died peacefully at Saint Michael’s Hospice on New Year’s Eve. After 71 years of remarkable health Miss Williams succumbed to cancer, a final challenge that was too hard for even her to overcome. Miss Williams served the school and its community superbly for over 36 years in total and will be remembered by countless younger, older, current and ex-students who benefitted from her dedication, skill and compassion. As well as teaching Mathematics, Miss Williams was a tireless supporter of the school’s charity work, including being the leading light in the annual ‘Stay Awake’- she stayed awake every year at this event for 25 years!

Miss Williams’ charitable work extended beyond the school and reflected her selfless dedication to helping those in need. She was still very much involved in charity work, in particular the Harrogate Child Contact Centre, as well as taking part in events such as the Great Yorkshire Bike Ride to raise money for local charities.

Before joining HGS, Miss Williams spent 1964 – 1966 at St Louis Secondary School in Nigeria with VSO, she then came back and taught in Mansfield for 2 years before returning to the same school in Nigeria where she enjoyed teaching for over 4 years. She joined Harrogate Grammar School in 1974 and taught Maths for 7 years, before spending 4 years working in a school in Papua New Guinea. Miss Williams rejoined HGS in 1986 and served a further 29 years, eventually moving on to managing cover within the school with the occasional teaching of Maths lessons.

These experiences demonstrated her determination, commitment, resilience and love for life that was there right until her passing. Headteacher, Richard Sheriff said, “I had the privilege of spending time with Miss Williams over recent weeks and had a glimpse into her exciting and quite extraordinary life through reading her diaries of her time in Papua New Guinea. As I read, Miss Williams added to the detailed accounts she had made at the time, her memory incredible and her affection for people and places undimmed by the passage of time.”

Miss Williams was a wonderful role model as a learner herself, determined to take on new challenges, adapting to new technology and always willing to learn from others. After getting her first degree in Mathematics from Kings College London, she went on to complete a second degree 15 years later, and achieved a first. She completed an MSc and was renowned in school for her intellectual ability, as well as her plain, practical common sense.

Miss Williams’ funeral will take place on Monday 19th January, with a short service first at the Stonefall Crematorium at 12.20pm, followed by a remembrance service at 4.00pm at the United Reformed Church next to West Park. The 4.00pm start time for the second service is designed to allow as many staff and students from the school to attend if they wish; Miss Williams wanted, as usual, to reduce the amount of ‘fuss’ caused by her arrangements.

Miss Williams requested family flowers only, but asked for anyone who wished to make a donation, to donate to the Harrogate Homeless Project.

Miss Williams was a wonderful teacher and colleague, a great friend and an inspiration to many children and adults. She will be greatly missed by everyone.

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