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Vera Castle Kitchen 1917 – 2011

Deputy Head Mistress and Head of Mathematics Department 1958 – 1977

"Mrs. Kitchen, Deputy Headmistress and Head of the Mathematics Department, is leaving St. Elphin's after nineteen years loyal and devoted service to the school. Many will not know that Mrs. Kitchen joined the staff, in 1958, in a part-time temporary capacity – but St. Elphin's needed her, and she gave St. Elphin's nearly twenty years – in fact in mathematical terms, the second half of the total number of years which she devoted to teaching.

Mrs. Kitchen had come to us from teaching boys – which I understand that she thoroughly enjoyed, even though, on occasions, it involved her in instructing her pupils in the finer points of the game of football! Furthermore, she was not daunted when she accompanied Mr. Kitchen and a large number of schoolboys on a camping expedition to the Channel Islands, when the weather proved inclement, and it poured with rain the whole time.

Perhaps it was with relief that Mrs. Kitchen turned her talents to instructing the young ladies of St. Elphin's in the gentle art of mathematics. When Mrs. Kitchen joined the staff, the school was only half its present size, and very few of its present buildings were in existence. The IB, with its specialist rooms, includings its beautifully equipped Mathematics room, was a thing of the future. But Mrs. Kitchen's qualities as a teacher and as a colleague were revealed, even when the school was far smaller and less complex than at present. As we look back over the years, we find so much for which we have to thank and admire Mrs. Kitchen – her scholarship, and ability to inspire in her able pupils the enthusiasm for so demanding a study as higher mathematics; her sympathy and patient understanding of the difficulties of the less able mathematicians; her unselfish devotion to duty, whatever calls were made upon her.

I personally owe Mrs. Kitchen a deep debt of gratitude for her help and guidance during my first two years as Headmistress of St. Elphin's. I thank her for her kindly advice, her wise judgement, and her unswerving loyalty at all times. I know too, that in the Staff Room her tact and good humour proved invaluable in overcoming difficulties and helped to ensure the smooth running of the school. On no occasion was Mrs. Kitchen too busy to help organise, investigate, comfort or encourage.

The quality which we all came to admire most of all, in Mrs. Kitchen, during her last term at St. Elphin's, was her great courage, in the face of much carefully concealed pain. We were much saddened when we heard that Mrs. Kitchen was going to be admitted to hospital in May for an operation, although we knew that it was long overdue. We admired tremendously her determination to win through, and her unremitting efforts to recover her strength and vigour. We were delighted to have her back with us, at school, even though only for the farewell party given in her honour at the end of the term. We hope that she will eventually be restored to full health, and that she will soon be able to enjoy the relaxation and refreshment, in her retirement, which she so richly deserves.

A. L. Mayhew, Headmistress (taken from the 1977 St Elphin's Magazine).

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