Miss Marjorie Crossley

Miss Marjorie Crossley 1916 - 2016

Guild Honorary Member (In College 1944-1977)

Who was this quiet, self-effacing woman who influenced so many lives over several decades? Miss Crossley was courteous, precise, punctual, perceptive, kind, professional, neat and always well presented. Those of us who knew her can see her now in her softly toned tweed skirts and twin sets, sensible shoes and never a hair out of place. She spoke quietly but with authority, she expected high standards from her students and usually got them because she cared for each one individually and believed that, with encouragement, each one could achieve her full potential.

Miss Crossley was the Head of the Domestic Science Department but she was also class teacher for the Citizenship Class and perhaps it was in that role that she had the greatest influence.  In those days it was not necessary to have A levels in order to be accepted for nurse training, the police, armed services, social work or many other professions. So I entered Miss Crossley’s Citizenship Class with enthusiasm and delight.

We learnt how our country operates, sitting in on sessions at the Magistrates’ Court and the Crown Court, visiting the water works and sewage works. We went behind the scenes in the Queen’s Hotel, Marks and Spencer and Cheltenham General Hospital. We had lectures from a number of experienced professionals from many different walks of life. Miss Crossley asked us individually to choose different topics, research them and present them as theses.  We were also given a budget and told to buy an imaginary house and furnish and equip it, illustrating our choices.  I was one among many who had not achieved academically but who thrived in the environment Miss Crossley had created; she inspired self-confidence in us.

My final year at school was not only the happiest but it enabled me to leave with my head held high, ready, after a year volunteering at St Hilda’s East, to enter the profession I had dreamed of since the age of three, paediatric nursing at Great Ormond Street.

Born during the First World War, brought up in her beloved Kendal, Miss Crossley did not approve of many of the changes which took place in society as she grew older. But her loyalty to her old girls and her vital interest in their lives never diminished. What an amazing woman!

A tribute by Sister Frances Ritchie (Guild, 1960, St Helen’s, St Bridget’s)