100th birthday celebrations for village schools' headteacher

Meg celebrated her birthday last month

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 4:12 pm

A former county headteacher has celebrated her 100th birthday with dozens of greetings cards and bouquets of flowers from well-wishers, family and friends.

Daisy Margaret Curtis, known as Meg, was delighted to receive numerous arrangements and plants as well as 80 cards from the various societies and groups to which she belonged.

Also known as Mrs Lyon for part of her working life, Meg started teaching at Park Road School in Kettering, and took posts in a number of village schools across the east of the county.

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l-r Granddaughter Tamsin, Meg and daughter Veronica

She was also the stage star, singing soprano with the Camarata Choir in Kettering, The Oundle Gilbert and Sullivan Players, The Cranford Songsters and at the Oundle Festival of Music and Drama.

Daughter Veronica Lyon said: "Her recipe for such a long life is 'to keep active and have lots of interests' – she has certainly done that.

"She was my role model. She was a big name in the local scene. We were allowed to go and watch her perform in the The Oundle Gilbert and Sullivan Players on the closing night of the shows at the Victoria Hall in Oundle.

"She was often the lead and we would look up and watch her. She was a founder member and when she stopped performing she became the chorus mistress."

Meg with her card from HM The Queen

As an educator for more than forty years, Meg's educational journey started at Aldwincle village C of E Primary School from where she passed the eleven-plus gaining entrance to the County High School at Wellingborough.

She trained to be a teacher at Avery Hill College in London during the war years but had to be evacuated to Huddersfield to complete the course due to the Blitz.

Her first teaching post was at Park Road School in Kettering, moving on to Leicester and then Barnwell Primary until in 1951 when she was promoted to the headship at Sudborough Village Primary school.

Both her children Veronica and Nick attended Sudborough with their mother and when the school closed in 1963, Meg was made deputy head at Thrapston Primary School.

Her final post was as headteacher at Aldwincle Primary where she had been a pupil so many years before.

Veronica said: "She was strict with the children but she was highly respected. She wouldn't take any nonsense.

"She always said that the happiest years of her teaching career were at Sudborough."

Meg was married to Roy Lyon and lived in Titchmarsh until just after his death. She met her second husband Don Bates through an old school friend. They moved to Cranford.

Veronica said: "She worked all her life and was widowed twice. I had to support her when my dad died at 43. She was devastated but we became very close.

"Her life has revolved around music - she played the organ at Aldwincle Baptist Chapel, following in her mother’s footsteps, played Jerusalem at the end of the WI meetings in Cranford, was secretary for the Oundle Festival of Music and Drama and went to choral and orchestral concerts wherever she could.

"She loves to listen to Classic FM and will sing along to the songs she knows."

Meg's other love has been gardening. Her garden at Cranford used to be open with the National Gardens Scheme every year.

Veronica said: "She used to potter about in her garden until about eight years ago. Now she has a gardener and sits looking out at her garden. She was a very active lady throughout her life she has played tennis, golf - at Oundle and later at Kettering - bowls and taken part in folk dancing."

For her birthday Veronica and Nick face-timed members of the family due to Covid restrictions and she had two cakes that were shared.

Meg is waiting to be a great-grandmother this July and has seven grandchildren: Gavin, Tamsin, James, Rebecca, and by step-daughter Judy, Adam, Alice and Jonathan.

She celebrated her big day on March 6.