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Education mourns 'unsung hero'

The funeral took place last week of Ruth Abbot, one of the unsung heroines of education, best known for the invaluable advice she dispensed to teachers and governors.

She was a leading figure in AGIT (Action for Governors' Information and Training), which folded nearly three year ago, and was on the executive of the National Association of Governors and Managers.

She did voluntary work for the Community Education Development Centre, and was a member of the British Educational Management and Administration Society, and the Society of Education Officers.

Melody Dougan, a long-standing colleague and friend, said: "The first word that comes to mind about Ruth is integrity. She was the greatest networker in the business, and the greatest enabler. She was a modest, humble person, and one of education's great unsung heroes.

"Under what seemed quite a modest, immaculately dressed exterior, was a great sense of humour and an immense capacity for mimickry."

Ruth, a Pinner grmmar school girl, taught as an unqualified teacher in a private school before getting her history degree at Birbeck College, London. She started in education administration in Harrow, moving on to Brent and Ealing.

She took early retirement in 1989 following treatment for cancer, and moved to the Midlands to be with her sister. But she carried on working part-time, for the past 10 years as a case worker for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

Peter Smith, general secretary of the association, said: "She must have helped, advised, supported, and represented hundreds of teachers and I never heard anything about her save gratitude and admiration. She was an extraordinarily conscientious and humane person. It's a huge loss."

Jane Philips, NAGM's vice-chair, said: "Ruth always acted with wisdom, decorum and commonsense. People like her are in short supply. She'll be missed."

Ruth's family have asked for donations to the Save The Children fund Governors, 20

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