Anne Taylor obituary

School governor for three decades, fundraiser and key figure in Wiltshire community life

My mother, Anne Taylor, who has died aged 86, was involved in education and her local community throughout her life.

She was born in Woodford, Essex, the youngest of three children of Elisabeth (nee Künanz) and Scott Bayliss, and her early years were spent in Buckhurst Hill. Her father taught at Stratford grammar in London, and when the school was evacuated to Helston in Cornwall during the second world war the family went too. Mum often used to say, “When I was there it was empty. If I was to go back my memories would be spoilt by the number of tourists.”

Back in Buckhurst Hill she attended Loughton county high school for girls, where she captained the first 11 hockey team and was a keen horse rider. She attended University College, Leicester (now Leicester University), obtaining a University of London biology degree, and from there taught biology, first at Monmouth school for girls, then Guthlaxton school, Leicester, where she met Leslie Taylor, a physics teacher.

In 1961 they married and settled in Devizes, in Wiltshire. While bringing up a young family my mother threw herself into the life of a small market town. With other young mothers she helped set up a playgroup in an old school building – we children can remember helping paint its walls – joined the Devizes indoor pool committee, whose successful fundraising included a lawnmower derby, and was part of a campaign that resulted in Wansdyke primary school being built.

She continued to teach part-time in Devizes and nearby in Calne, and supplemented the family income by marking overseas exam papers.

In the early 1970s, she stood (unsuccessfully) as Labour candidate for the town council, and as well as being an active member of Shelter, she worked on local housing projects. In 1975 she became a parent governor at Devizes school, and when her term of office finished she was co-opted by Wiltshire council to stay on as a governor – a role she continued in for three decades, ending up as chair. She also worked for Devizes Books, initially being paid but, as local bookshops came under increasing financial pressure, later as a volunteer.

Mum turned her hand to tomato-growing, jam-making, dressmaking, darning socks and cutting our hair.

In the 1970s my parents moved to a new home, Eastcroft House, often sharing it with others, including my mother’s parents (for whom she acted as carer), twin-town guests from Finland and Germany, and musicians performing at the Devizes festival.

She faced my father’s death in 2017 with her usual stoicism. She is survived by her children, Katharine, Ben, Jonathan and me, and eight grandchildren.

Mark Taylor

The GuardianTramp

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