Grace (Gay) Charlotte Hellyer

Gay at Lord Portland's pond copy

This picture of Gay – possibly taken pre-marriage to Arthur, when she taught at Sutton-in-Ashfield County Secondary School in Nottingham. Prior to her appointment biology had not been taught at the school. Her first task was to completely reorganize the science department, bringing it up to date. The course she taught included field work, gardening and the academic work needed for the School Certificate and Higher Certificate examinations. The girls were stimulated by her teaching methods and took an enthusiastic interest in the subject. In 1932, she left the school to marry Arthur. In 1936 the course she initiated was still being used.

During and after the war she worked alongside Arthur on the piece of land they had bought in Sussex, drawing plans and assisting with the building of their house. Working the land during the war alongside the land girls, planning the orchards, helping with the animals at their home The Orchards.

She returned to teaching in 1949, where she taught Zoology, Botany, and Biology until 1963. She was an educator, it was she who taught me to study nature as closely as I still do now.

She passed away on 11 February 1977 – 41 years ago today. So much of nature reminds me of her, Viburnum fragrans, snowdrops and tiny iris, rugged barks, and fat buds.

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