It’s impossible to distill the life of someone as active
and energetic as Marianne. Instead, I’m going to talk about three strands in her life: education, sport and love.
Education was in the family genes. Her older brother was a school Inspector and her sister a headmistress.
Not content just to educate children, Marianne was keen to expand her own understanding,
and gained a Masters in Child Development while Housemistress of New House.
Towards the end of her career, she looked beyond the curriculum at the importance of wellbeing and happiness,
and devised a new approach aptly called Learning for Life. Her career ended with a new initiative. Marianne exuded energy.
Always a respectable middle distance runner,
she then turned to long distance, winning the Bristol half marathon in 1985.
That year she also entered the New York marathon with the realistic ambition of achieving a sub 3 hour time, but succumbed to a strange illness that caused her to throw up almost every mile.
She completed the event but was both disappointed and puzzled by her failure to run the race she had trained for.
The reason was Bridie! Marianne had no idea that she was pregnant.
She arrived at Oundle in 1997 as Head of Girls’ Games at a time when PE teachers were on a lower pay scale, MARIANNE KERR
and she fought to ensure that sport was properly regarded.
As Housemistress, woe betide any girl who tried to pull a sickie on a Games afternoon! Marianne was terrier-like in encouraging every girl to enjoy competitive sport – and she led by example: her own fitness was legendary.
Her death seems so unfair: as well as being so fit, she was a non-smoker and determined vegetarian.
Never missing an opportunity to go skiing, she persuaded less talented friends and colleagues to join her. She loved cycling, MARIANNE KERR
and when I railed against the pace she set on a 480-mile cycle from Mizzen Head to Malin, she gave me a verbal slap and told me to embrace the challenge.
Even towards the end of her illness, she still made exercise her priority. Following her second course of chemotherapy, she cycled everyone into the dust. I was lucky that Marianne was my friend.
Her kindness, support and humour have been a source of joy for twenty years. Since her death, I have been touched
by the number of people in the town who have spoken about her with such warmth and feeling: she was deeply loved and respected.
Teaching colleagues, New House staff, grounds staff, former pupils, current pupils, the local community – anyone who knew
Marianne genuinely loved her. She was one big infectious smile who brought joy to everyone
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