FRIENDS, former colleagues and ex-pupils will have been saddened to learn of the death of Glenda Vibert, known to countless Stanwell School pupils as Miss Palmer, earlier this month, February 6.
Following an article in last week’s Penarth Times, friend Sandra Whitfield has paid tribute to Glenda Vibert.
Glenda was born in Llanelli on September 14, 1939, shortly after the start of the Second World War. In her memoirs, Glenda recalls “not being greatly inconvenienced by the war” and goes on to explain that “Llanelli did not suffer the horrific bombing that Swansea experienced only 12 miles away…. Only two bombs were dropped – and they were mistakes”. Her young life, though, was not easy. Her father died of tuberculosis at the age of 34 and Glenda, at the age of 11, also contracted the ‘white plague’ and spent several years in hospital. Most of her right lung was removed and for a time her life hung in the balance.
Two days after her fifteenth birthday, she left hospital and returned home to a strange new world, having missed her entire secondary schooling as the school-leaving age was 15 in those days.
She was not, however, uneducated, as she had spent most of her time reading and was particularly interested in Roman history. She shocked her Aunt Ethel by declining the traditional gift of a gold watch for her 21st birthday, asking if she would pay for her to go to Rome instead. To Aunt Ethel’s credit, she agreed and Glenda took herself off to Rome where she had a wonderful time.
Without any formal qualifications, she was "refused job after job as a shop assistant" until she was finally given work in a sports and book shop. But Glenda was destined for higher things and, while still working, she set about achieving qualifications: O Levels at the local technical college, A Levels at Coleg Harlech, an honours degree in English and History at Cardiff University and, finally, teacher training at Cyncoed College.
She joined the staff of Stanwell School in September 1973 where she taught English, Commerce and Media Studies, was Sixth Form Tutor and Deputy Head.
In addition, she started a film club, directed drama productions including ‘Dracula’ and ‘The Ghost Train’ and was a passionate advocate for the introduction of drama into the curriculum. She also spent many years as a magistrate in Barry. Not bad for someone who struggled to get a job as a shop assistant! Her remarkable achievements are testimony to her intelligence, courage and determination. Glenda was greatly loved and respected by staff and pupils alike; she was fair, wise, funny, compassionate, elegant and, at times, quite outrageous!
In January 1984, she married artist and teacher David Vibert. Glenda retired in 1999 and shortly afterwards was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Once again, Glenda created something positive out of adversity when she decided to publish some of her poems to raise funds for research into Parkinson’s and Motor Neurone Disease. More than £5000 was raised for these charities. ‘Oops!’, so called because sufferers of Parkinson’s tend to fall over a lot, was followed by ‘Funny Peculiar Funny Ha Ha’. At the time of her death, she was working on a collection of memories, ‘Bits and Pieces’. Sadly, these remain unfinished but those who were privileged to know her will treasure their own memories of a clever, brave and remarkable woman.
Copies of ‘Oops’ available from Patricia Dunford 01656 766755 or email@example.com (£5 including p&p).
The funeral service will be on Wednesday, February 26 at 10.30am at Lavernock Court and after at Cardiff and the Vale Natural Burial Ground, Coedarhydyglyn Park, St Nicholas