AN ‘inspirational’ former teacher who headed the English departments at two North East schools has died aged 99.

Nancy Deas, of High Green, Gainford, led the English department at the former Darlington Girls High School before moving to Polam Hall where she also worked as department head before retiring.

Mrs Deas was a keen historian and her research led her to write and publish ‘A Brief History of Gainford’ which was illustrated by her late husband, architect Victor Deas.

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Maureen Alderson, who worked as vicar of Gainford before retiring three years ago described, Mrs Deas as a “gentle and generous” friend who left a lasting impression on generations of pupils.

She said: “It is just indescribable how lovely she was.

“She was an absolute lady to the hilt, so gentle and generous and with a lovely manner about her.

“Even after all this time there were former pupils of the schools who still remembered her and came to her funeral.

“Nobody could speak highly enough of her; she was that good a person.”

In a letter to the Darlington and Stockton Times, former Darlington Girls High School pupil Elizabeth Esteve-Coll – who went on to become the first woman director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London – described Mrs Deas as a “gentle inspiration”.

She said: “Her passing marks the end of an era for many of us but our memories of her influential teaching will last for the rest of our lives.”

Mrs Deas spent the last three years of her life at the Manor House Care Home in Barnard Castle and died on January 16; ten weeks before what would have been her 100th birthday on Easter Sunday.

Scores of well-wishers attended her funeral at St Marys Church, Gainford, on Tuesday (February 5), including several former pupils of Polam Hall and Darlington Girls High School – now the Hummersknott Academy.

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