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Miss Sawdon’s retirement as headmistress, The Quornian, 1971

Miss Marjorie Elizabeth Sawdon was the head of Rawlins from 1948 to 1970. She died in 1997 aged 87. The article below appeared in the school magazine in 1971 and was kept by Margaret and Peter Gamble.

The Magazine of the Rawlins School, Quorn

Vol. VII, No. 2 FEBRUARY 1971

All this year's school events were overshadowed by that of Miss Sawdon's retirement at the end of the summer term. The idea of Rawlins without Miss Sawdon was just about as inconceivable as that of Miss Sawdon without Rawlins—the two had been so inextricably linked together. Twenty-two years is a long time to be Headmistress of a school, and for one so dedicated as Miss Sawdon the break was difficult indeed.
To say that her term of office has been packed with interest and excitement would be no exaggeration. The Rawlins School has had a fascinating history, and the part which Miss Sawdon has played has been perhaps the most eventful and dramatic. To change the metaphor she has been a captain, steering her ship through uncharted seas not always smooth and calm and often with mists obscuring the view; but as one who is proud to have been a member of her crew throughout the voyage I can testify to her stability and skill.
Miss Sawdon was never happier than when she was faced with a problem to solve, or to use her own words, a 'tricky situation'. Her ability to assess it, to see all its implications, to get it into its right perspective and to emerge serenely with the solution has on many occasions called forth the admiration of those who knew her.
Days and nights, weekends, holidays were ungrudgingly given to her work. Details mattered; every individual mattered; high standards mattered. Here is a lady whose devotion and integrity should be an inspiration to all who have had any connection with the Rawlins School during the last 22 years. Many people owe much to her tact and wise counsel. For Miss Sawdon to retire from one sphere of service to the community has given her opportunities to take part in others. She is already very busy, but we do hope that, freed from bells and timetables, she will be able for many years to follow up interests which attract her and for which she previously had too little time. We wish her good health and much happiness, and assure her of a warm welcome whenever she comes to see us.
The different groups with which Miss Sawdon was associated took their several opportunities during the summer term to meet and express their appreciation. At school the non-teaching staff gave a party at which they presented her with an electric mixer. Then on April 10th the Old Students held a dinner at which all the 22 years seemed to rise up simultaneously as one happy time recalled. Miss Sawdon regularly wears the gold bracelet presented to her on that occasion. The present staff were joined by a good number of former members of staff at a dinner on June 26th, when there was much merriment mingled with sadder thoughts. Mr. Meredith on behalf of members of staff past and present made the presentation of stereo equipment and a contribution to the record library which Miss Sawdon is building up for her leisure. Mr. Williamson had for several months been collecting together an album of photographs of the school at work and play—taking a hint from Miss Sawdon's own inspiration when Colonel Toller was retiring as our Chairman of Governors—and this also was presented at the dinner. To round off the proceedings Miss Brown read some verses she had composed, of which we print the conclusion.
Think of us across the treetops which your bungalow embower, Only if you hear the stammering church-bells in the dinner hour, Fresh assaults of fresh beginners from that old long-suffering tower.
Think no more of Stafford Orchard! Let the rest of us bemoan, Misdemeanours yet undreamed of, fashions hitherto unknown, While you smile, and put a record, gently, on the gramophone.
But retire? That's academic. You'll remain ! Not just to come Back and take a bit of English, make the Parish Council hum. But from some immortal sideline galvanize the latest scrum, Ultimately be a legend in the manner of Drake's Drum.
For the present, live and flourish! Write our annals. I foresee You'll surprise them yet, and like our double-flowering cherry be, Which the month before it blossoms looks a darkening autumn tree.

We must not omit to mention the school's goodbye which came in the form of a concert on the last day, reviving many items Miss Sawdon had particularly liked. Mr. Alderton had cleverly put together a light-hearted history of the school which was acted with spirit. It was a new kind of dramatic climax when a picture of the school's facade was flashed on the cyclorama! The Head Boy and Head Girl spoke briefly and sincerely of Miss Sawdon's influence and gave to her the school's farewell present of a pearl necklace. Miss Oughton expressed the thoughts of us all in reminding Miss Sawdon that she would always be a part of the school. Salve, Magistra!

Head Girl: Mary Cockrell, then Jane Hunt Deputy: Alison Jones
Head Boy: John North Deputy: Stephen Pritchard

Elizabeth Ambler, Miriam Bennett, Patricia Dwyer, Susan Felstead, Yvonne Frisby, Joy Hollins, Elizabeth Moreton, Elizabeth Pitts, Marylyn Spurr, Elizabeth Thresh, Sarah Webster, Julia Woolley.

Jane Hollingworth, who supplied this item, went to Rawlins and remembers Miss Sawdon who used to teach her English literature. Jane continues:
"She was a very good teacher and commanded respect she was quite physically frail while I was at the school, but had no problem with discipline. One day I was summoned to her office and I wondered why. She asked me and my friend to take a present to Quorn House, Georgiana Farnham was getting married and she had bought a wedding present for her. We were very excited at being able to walk down the private drive to the house. A butler answered the door and took the present."

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 Submitted on: 2022-03-31
 Submitted by: Jane Hollingworth
 Artefact ID: 2482
 Artefact URL: www.quornmuseum.com/display.php?id=2482
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page or just on its own (new browser tab).

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