Diana Chambers obituary

Other lives: Secondary-school teacher and pro-chancellor of the University of Bradford who became a canon at the city’s cathedral

My mother, Diana Chambers, who has died aged 80 after a short illness, was first and foremost an inspiring educator, committed to ensuring that all her pupils (especially girls) achieved their potential at the secondary schools she worked at.

Diana graduated in French from Birmingham University, before qualifying as a teacher at St Peter’s College, Saltley. At university, she met Peter Chambers, a postgraduate sociologist, from Manchester and they married in 1962.

Peter was head of education at West Midlands College while Diana built her teaching career, at Streetly and Dartmouth high schools. In 1976, Peter became vice-principal at Bradford College and the family moved to Yorkshire. Diana’s early misgivings were soon allayed by her love of the Yorkshire countryside and her role as deputy head at Nab Wood school (now Dixons Cottingley academy). In 1987 she became head at Skipton girls’ high school, so she and Peter decided to make Skipton their home. For nine years they had what Peter described as “our time”, enjoying the community and countryside until Peter died of stomach cancer in 1996.

Diana loved leading the high school, continuing to play a major role in education in Yorkshire after her retirement. As pro-chancellor of the University of Bradford, which awarded her an honorary doctorate, she presided over degree ceremonies and was always delighted by the breadth and diversity of the students.

She served as chair of the Diocesan Board of Education for nearly 10 years from 2003, and was both chair and governor at several schools including Immanuel college in Bradford, Upper Wharfedale school in Threshfield, and Aireville school (now the Skipton academy). She was a tireless champion of the schools she worked with.

Diana had deep Christian values, becoming a canon at Bradford Cathedral and a member of the parochial church council at Holy Trinity, Skipton. A Soroptimist for more than 30 years, she was a committed contributor to the Skipton community, helping to run the child contact centre and the food bank.

Born in Leicester, the youngest of four daughters of Gwendolen (nee Potter), a housewife, and Robert Hempton, who fought in Holland during the second world war and then worked in the civil service, Diana was educated at Wyggeston grammar school for girls in the city.

I was born in 1963 and my sister, Rachel, in 1967. Mum and Dad shared an abiding love of France, its food and wine, its people and its language, and even in later years Mum continued to drive herself around France visiting friends.

Always up for a challenge, Mum was never slow in sharing her opinion. She was warm, big-hearted and fun, and loved to share a bottle of wine (preferably fizzy) with friends. Her grandchildren were her joy, and she loved dogs – there was always a beloved sheltie by her side.

Diana is survived by her children, Rachel and me, her grandchildren, Eleanor and Alastair, and her sister Bridget.

Jenny Perkins

The GuardianTramp

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