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Obituary - Wendy Thomas 1944-2012

The adjectives that colleagues use to describe Wendy Thomas tend to reflect her diligence. She was modest, they say, and efficient, and dignified. But the Suffolk primary teacher also approached her job with a constant smile and an obvious sense of fun.

Wendy Morris was born in Blackpool in November 1944. Fourteen years later, the family moved to her father's native South Wales. There, Wendy enrolled at Caerleon College in Newport, to study needlework. The work, however, offered little outlet for her natural liveliness and love of children. And so she decided to work as a primary teacher.

Her first post was at her own Blackpool alma mater, Norbreck Primary. Here, she demonstrated a talent for order and firmness. But she also exuded warmth and affection: she seemed always to be smiling.

She worked with reception pupils and relished the hands-on elements of this job: the painting, drawing and moulding with play dough. And the job provided an outlet for her sewing skills, too. Her classroom walls were often bedecked with colourful fabric collages.

Before long, she returned to South Wales, taking a job at Newport's Eveswell Primary, and then at nearby Monnow Primary. Here, her landlady offered to introduce her to a nice young man. That man was Alan Thomas (coincidentally a former Eveswell pupil). The pair married in 1965 and Mrs Thomas gave up work to raise their two children, Robert and Alison.

In 1975, Alan's work took the family to Suffolk. Ten years later, Mrs Thomas returned to work, this time as reception teacher at Felixstowe's Langer Primary. Here, she regularly took a leading role in organising school events. She directed Christmas dramas and helped to set up stalls at school fetes. And she was a driving force behind the annual school disco, invariably bringing Alan along on the night itself.

She did not dance, though: that was not her style. She was modest, unassuming and invariably dignified. But she was not without a sense of humour. She would always dress up for school book week, and one year turned up at assembly as Mrs Wibble-Wobble, carrying a tray of jelly around the school hall.

She was not solely focused on her pupils: she also acted as a role model for new teachers, always making time to offer advice and reassurance. By the time she retired, in December 1999, she was Langer's coordinator of early years and key stage 1, providing a similar service for the school's head.

Though retired, she worked at a local toddlers' group for 10 years, impressing parents with her apparently boundless energy. She was always the last one to clear away toys, always the first to make teas and coffees. She kept chickens at home and regularly brought in baskets of eggs for the children; they began calling her "the chicken lady".

So energetic was she, in fact, that many toddler-group parents were astonished to discover that Mrs Thomas had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006. She died on 2 August.

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