Obituary: Pam Syrett, Much Loved Former Gillotts School Teacher

Pamela Syrett sadly passed away at Chiltern Court Care Home, Henley-on-Thames, on 27 January 2023. Pam grew up in the Welsh town of Crickhowell. Although she never returned to live in Wales, her heart was always there, she was proud of her Welsh roots and never lost her Welsh accent. Pam first taught at Henry Compton School for Boys in Fulham. A day trip to Henley led to her and her husband John to move here in 1964. She loved being in Henley, being surrounded by the countryside and was particularly fond of walks by the river, always reminding her of Crickhowell.

Four years after her arrival in Henley, Pam began what was to be a very long career at Gillotts School, seeing her promoted to Head of History and taking an active role in pastoral education, as Head of Upper School. Pam touched the lives of countless pupils; her artwork on the blackboards was highly regarded, as was her unique style of teaching, for example bringing history to life in the classroom, with pupils acting out battles. In her 36 years at Gillotts, Pam shared her experience, knowledge and positive teaching style mentoring new staff, many who still fondly remember her. She pioneered memorable school trips, at home and abroad including castles in southern Wales, overseas trips to Rome and First World War battlefields. Her most daring trip was to take a group of pupils to Russia in the closing years of communism. Here they experienced the sights of the Winter Palace, Red Square and Leningrad, as well as plenty of Russian culture, food and many unforgettable memories.

In 1979 she instigated the first of many “last year of school” London trips, treating pupils to everything from ice skating to an extraordinary new play, “The Rocky Horror Show”. Pam later admitted to not knowing what she had booked and had to explain herself to the headmaster – but was forever seen by her pupils as a legend!

The end of year prom is a highlight of every pupil’s final year at Gillott School. Before it became fashionable, Pam instigated the first ever Gillott’s prom and encouraged parents, teachers and pupils to make it a special occasion and one that they would remember. Nice cars, black tie and ball dresses set the scene for a memory making ball, which in the modern day has now become the norm.

After retirement her passion for history took her to the Henley Archaeological and History Society, where she held the position of Chair for many years. Once again, her passion for adventure, education and organising events took the society to many historical sites around the UK. A number of notable guest speakers were invited to the society and membership swelled with a packed programme of events.

Pam’s love of art and history combined in her passion for oil painting, drawing inspiration from the Welsh countryside of her home town Crickhowell, Talybont-on-Usk and holidays in Dorset. Having her artwork around her gave Pam comfort and was a talking point for her many visitors. Her love of literature, poetry and eclectic musical taste kept her mind active and contributed to a busy social life.

Pam battled ill health in her later years with the same courage and fortitude as she lived her life. Pam’s kindness, knowledge, love and zest for life will be very much missed by all who knew her. She was a much regarded member of the Henley community. Pam is survived by her children Paul and Janine, eight grandchildren and a great grandson.

Pam’s funeral will take place at Reading Crematorium on Friday 24 February at 11:30am. Family flowers only. Donations if desired to Sue Ryder or Order of St John at c/o Tomalin & Son.

1 comment
  1. Mike hewitt says:

    Lovely “Mum Neighbour”, the most inspiring and fun teacher she brought history alive, will miss her loads. Well done Pam, God bless you.


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