MARGARET BURGESS (nee Laslett) died on 17th December 2012 aged 90. Margaret was Junior School teacher from the mid 1940s; she later taught at Wetherby Primary School. For the last year of her life she was in residential care in Ripon.
The following emails were sent to Margaret’s son, Paul.
from Christopher Young
Dear Paul...such sadness to hear this news of Margaret who spread so much light to so many.
In 1945 Wennington moved from Lancaster to Wetherby; Margaret [and Frank] came with the staff which was vibrant and idealistic, small and caring. Aged eight, I became a Wenningtonian. Margaret would have been perhaps twenty three at the time and she became my first teacher in the Juniors; I can still remember her face and her smile at that time with crystal clarity so I must have found her very kind, serious and fun. She, of course was Margaret Laslett then and had a brother, John, who was a pupil at the school.
Margaret was one of the staff who was always there with rock like solidity providing stability and protection from the aftermath of a war-torn world out there.
The next great event affecting Margaret was when the head sent Frank Burgess on an ‘urgent’ mission during morning Assembly in order to announce that Margaret Laslett was about to become Margaret Burgess, thus avoiding embarrassment to Frank on this personal and sensitive matter. Possibly Kenneth ministered a few appropriate remarks about pupil behaviour in the light of this fascinating exposure; the school was very small and intimate.
Life later dealt Frank and Margaret an unacceptable deal when it was revealed that Wennington had to close; both were absolutely dedicated to the school and it must have seemed very hard indeed to contemplate a different way of life after so many years of devotion to the ideal world of Wennington which was apart from the wider, scary world.
Paul, after so many years it is hard to be specific about Margaret’s life at Wennington, other than to say that her influence was subtle and immense for so many young minds who, without actually realising, have followed in myriads of ways, the example she set. I for one, remember her with great warmth.
from Katy Pentith
Just read the e-mail from Paul Burgess, regarding the sad death of his Mum Margaret. This brings to mind her many kindnessess when I was at Wennington. As I was fortunate enough to be in Frank’s house we were very spoiled every Thursday when we were invited to their family home for supper. This usually included Fish and Chips a warm relaxing evening and a sense of being welcome. Top of the Pops and the various rivalries between supporters of the different stars of the moment. This made for a highlight of the week. No doubt that lots that would not have been possible without Margaret’s good nature . So a big thankyou.