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Obituary - Linda Evans 1957-2009

Linda Evans, a Kent teacher best known for her disco-dancing, her unco-ordinated outfits and her tendency to lose her keys, has died suddenly of a stroke while driving home from work.

The 52-year-old leaves Cheyne Middle School with fond memories of laughter, joyousness and purple leggings.

Evans was born in Plymouth in 1957, where she was head girl of her school and represented Devon in national swimming competitions.

Her degree was in geography, from Brighton University, but she dreamed of being a teacher. After graduating, she spent three months working in the USA, teaching in Massachusetts schools.

She began her British career as Year 5 teacher at Sir Thomas Cheyne, a boys' middle school on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent. It was here, in 1981, that she met music teacher Paul Evans; they married in 1984.

Her career progressed swiftly. After a stint at a nearby first school, Evans moved to South Avenue Junior School in Sittingbourne as head of year, and then to Bysing Wood Junior School, near Faversham, where she was appointed deputy head.

By this stage, Evans had two young children, Lloyd and Bethan. Becoming a headteacher, she reasoned, could have a detrimental impact on her home life: she would rather devote her energy to her family. And she missed the direct contact with pupils - this, she realised, was what she enjoyed most about teaching.

By this stage, Sir Thomas Cheyne had amalgamated with a nearby girls' school, to create Cheyne Middle School. In 2001, the school advertised for a Year 8 form tutor and humanities teacher. Evans applied for the job, and was appointed.

At the time, Cheyne was also looking for an assessment manager. Evans' skill with numbers - she also taught key stage 2 numeracy - ensured her the job.

But no matter how extensive her designated role, she was always willing to give up her own time to help pupils. Every day, she ate lunch with vulnerable children so that they did not have to face the chaos of the playground.

And she was a regular chaperone at school discos, where she was renowned for hitting the dance floor whenever the opening strains of an Abba song played.

In fact, dancing occupied much of her free time: she, Paul and their children were all keen exponents of Scottish dancing, as well as bell-ringers at their local church.

Fashion did not interest her. Among pupils, she is perhaps best remembered for her unco-ordinated outfits, including purple leggings and half-on, half-off shoes, which they charitably referred to as "her own unique style".

But among staff, she was better known for losing her belongings. It was not unusual for colleagues to walk into the staffroom and find everyone desperately hunting for Evans' keys or phone.

And she rarely left on time. Paul, now head of music, was regularly forced to announce over the school tannoy: "Mrs Evans - Mr Evans is ready to go home now." Very occasionally - on those rare instances when she was ready first - his wife would retaliate with a "Mrs Evans is ready to go home" message.

But, unusually, she left school before her husband on the day she died. She was attending a meeting for a charity fun-run in memory of a colleague who had died of a sudden stroke. It was the same condition that killed her as she drove away.

Her last words to her headteacher were: "Look after yourself." This - her concern for others and her ability to make them smile - is her ultimate legacy.

Her family has received more than 200 cards from well-wishers, and the words "joy" and "laughter" appear in almost all of them.

Linda Evans is survived by her husband, Paul, her son Lloyd, 17 and daughter Bethan, 15.

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