Tributes pour in to teacher that encouraged pupils to 'break the mould'

TRIBUTE: Audrey Burns died at the age of 84 on Saturday, August 16

TRIBUTE: Audrey Burns died at the age of 84 on Saturday, August 16

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TRIBUTES have poured in for a former deputy head teacher of St Cyres School.

Mrs Audrey Jones, who was affectionately known as ‘Strawbs’ at the school, died at the age of 84 on Saturday, August 16.

She joined the school in 1960 and, after teaching generations of Dinas Powys pupils, retired in 1990.

She campaigned for women’s rights throughout her career, and was keen to encourage girls to ‘break the mould’ and study subjects that were more commonly targeted at boys.

Her son, Robert Jones, said: “They used to find her hard and strict at the time but later grew to appreciate it in a funny sort of way.

“Even at school she was very keen about encouraging girls to take more scientific subjects rather than traditional subjects that girls usually got pigeon-holed into.

“Both genders had a better mix of education rather than being shoehorned into stereotypes.

“She was quite successful in that and there were quite a few that were inspired to break the mould and fulfil their ambitions.”

He added: “Up until a few months ago she was still campaigning on gender equality and violence against women on an international and national basis.”

Vale AM Jane Hutt, who worked with Mrs Jones through the Labour Party, said: “Audrey Jones was not only a dedicated and inspirational teacher, she was a courageous and committed feminist who helped form the Wales Women's Rights Committee, Wales Assembly of Women. She was a long-term contributor to UN consultations and debates upholding Women's Rights across the world, attending the UN as a delegate for Wales in the past five years supported by the Welsh Government.

“I always welcomed the contributions made by Audrey at our Labour Party meetings when I was sure to learn a great deal from her questions and scrutiny of my reports, as her Assembly Member and Minister in the Welsh Government. She was sympathetic to the challenges I described, but was clear about how I had to move forward and represent the interests of my constituency more effectively - especially women and vulnerable people.

“Her love of the arts featured strongly in her life and we enjoyed a shared interest in contemporary music. It was wonderful to see Audrey at the Vale of Glamorgan Music Festival in May with her son and friends. She was also a keen supporter of the Vale of Glamorgan Artists attending the VOGA art exhibitions across the Vale.”

She added: “Audrey Jones will be greatly missed by her family, friends, the Labour Party and the wide political and friendship network she developed across the world from her home in Dinas Powys.”

Jill Davies, a close friend and work colleague of Mrs Jones, said: “I had known her for some years first as a St Cyres parent then latterly through our memberships of the Labour Party. In my role as Secretary of Vale of Glamorgan Constituency Labour Party I valued Audrey's input in debates especially those relating to the role of women. She fought her illness with all her energy and attended meetings when lesser mortals would have stayed home. We will keep fighting for equality in her memory.”

After Jill announced Mrs Jones’s death on the Dinas Powys Pictures Facebook page dozens of people recounted their memories of the much-loved former deputy head teacher of St Cyres School.

Former pupils reminisced about how strict she was, but praised her attitude and kindness to them.

Tributes included: “Sad news, a character who will definitely be missed, one of the main reasons St Cyres was such an excellent school at the time.”

“Sad news, a wonderful lady, she taught me to love poetry and the arts. RIP”

“I look back very fondly on my time in St Cyres and that includes all the time Mrs Jones caught me out. She taught me respect and that rules do matter even if at the time they appear daft.”

“It's only when you get older that you realise she kept order in the school and taught you respect.

“We won’t see the likes of her again sadly. She ruled St Cyres with a rod of iron and the school was all the better for the likes of her.”

A humanist service funeral, conducted by Humanist Celebrant Lorraine Barrett, will be held at the Meadow Burial Ground on Monday, September 1, from 11.30am.

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