"I remember my days at school vividly and with great affection. Bolton School has a great tradition in the liberal arts. I've always acted for the love of it and this first love was inspired at Hopefield, the school theatre."

Sir Ian McKellen - Actor and Old Boy

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Hundreds Celebrate Life of Margaret Higginson

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Approximately 600 guests including Baroness Shirley Williams, attended the Service of Celebration for the life of Margaret Dora Higginson (1918-2009) held at Bolton School Girls' Division on Saturday 28 November.

Miss Higginson was Headmistress of Bolton School Girls' Division from 1954-1979. She died peacefully in September at the age of 90, leaving a lasting legacy to those who knew her.

The service began with a welcome and introduction by Mrs Gill Richards, Headmistress of Bolton School Girls' Division, followed by a tribute from Baroness Shirley Williams of Crosby; who fondly remembers being a pupil of Miss Higginson when she was Assistant English Mistress at St Paul's Girls School in London.

Miss Higginson's adopted daughter and Old Girl, Glenys Carter, spoke to the packed audience about Miss Higginson, followed by readings from family members Jane Crozier and Charles Tyldesley. Extracts from letters to Miss Higginson were read by Old Girls Deborah Taylor and Julia Head, and further offerings came from Old Girls Angela Rowley and Elizabeth Mullenger, as well as from Ann Glennerster, a former pupil of St Paul's School.  A tribute from Charles Winder, former Head of English at Bolton School Boys' Division, brought the service to a close, along with an address from the Revd Canon Dr C A Bracegirdle.

The large audience comprised of current and past teachers and pupils, governors, and friends and family of Miss Higginson, including other eminent Old Girls of Bolton School, Baroness Trish Morris and Dame Janet Smith. Also present at the celebration were members of the Ugandan family that Miss Higginson gave shelter to when they were made refugees in 1972, helping them with housing and introducing them to Bolton life.

Miss Higginson presided over a very busy time in the Girls' Division, during which pupil numbers increased markedly and more and more girls went on to Oxbridge and into a wider range of challenging careers. Old Girl Elaine Lever summed up the thoughts of many when she said "I am just one of the thousands who will be grateful to her as long as we live. Goodbye, inspiring tutor and very dear friend."

The music in the service was directed by Mr Alistair Mackenzie, Head of Music in the Girls' Division, and included a number of pieces from the Chamber Choir and the Head Girl Lucy Nolan on the harp. The service was recorded and copies can be obtained from the School.

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Baroness Shirley Williams and Mrs Gill Richards

Baroness Shirley Williams and the current Head, Mrs Gill Richards

Old Girl Baroness Trish Morris

Old Girl Baroness Trish Morris recounts tales of Miss Higginson to Mr Michael Griffiths, Chairman of Governors

Old Girls Dame Janet Smith and Marjorie Simms

Old Girls Marjorie Simms and Dame Janet Smith