Gillian Brown obituary

Other lives: Teacher of children with behaviour and emotional difficulties

My sister, Gillian Brown, who has died aged 77 of ovarian cancer, was a teacher of children with emotional and behavioural problems. She was dedicated to this challenging work and to spreading the power of education.

Gillian was born in Leeds to Mary (nee Harrison) and Graham Myatt, both of whom had been the first in their families to attend secondary school and went on to become teachers. They valued education highly.

Gill went to the local girls’ grammar, Allerton high school, where she was a keen student, particularly of history and English literature. She trained for teaching at Didsbury College (now Manchester Metropolitan University), qualifying in 1966. Her first job was at Boothstown Methodist primary school in Worsley.

In the late 70s she moved to Homelea, in Boothstown, a special school for children with behavioural and emotional problems, some of whom were in care. She worked there till the early 1990s, teaching home economics and textiles as well as literacy and numeracy to mixed-age classes.

Gill met Adrian Brown in the late 1970s. They married in 1980 and had three children. At home, Gill was a tremendous role model: a beautiful and intelligent woman with a professional career, who provided for the family on equal terms with her husband so that gender inequality was alien to her children. She strongly encouraged her children to make the most of their education.

After she retired, Gill worked as a relief teacher across the Greater Manchester area.

In the late 1990s she took on the main burden of supporting our increasingly frail parents. Then, from 2008 until 2013, Gill helped to look after her two grandsons when her elder daughter followed her mother into teaching.

Though a reserved person, Gill was warm and funny. She entertained us with her rapid-fire one-liners, delivered deadpan. A shrewd observer of the world and its ways, she was an avid reader, particularly of fiction, her house a treasure trove of books. She loved walking, visiting museums and touring stately homes. She dressed with style and was a skilful tailor: she sewed dresses, jackets, curtains and wonderful patchwork quilts. She loved crosswords, the Guardian and Radio 4.

Adrian died in 2005. Gill is survived by her children, Abigail, Caroline and Harry, by her grandchildren, Dominic, Tristan and Aria, by her partner, Eric Donnellan, and by me.

Helen Forrester

The GuardianTramp

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