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Dr Margaret Spurr, OBE DL 1933 - 2021

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Bolton School is sad to announce the death, on 24 November 2021, of Dr Margaret Spurr, OBE DL, Headmistress of the Girls’ Division from 1979 to 1994.

A graduate in English Literature and American Studies from Keele University, Margaret Spurr came to Bolton School from Fair Oak School in Staffordshire, where she had been Deputy Head. Dr Spurr’s time as Headmistress saw the completion of an ambitious building programme involving the enhancement and refurbishment of Beech House and Girls’ Division accommodation (notably the dining room), the opening of the Sports Hall and swimming pool in 1986, and, memorably, the Princess of Wales’ visit to open the Arts Centre in 1993. Her 15 year tenure as Headmistress was during a period of great change to the education system: information technology arrived and proliferated, and computer studies joined the curriculum;  A Levels were reformed, O Levels disappeared, and GCSEs, the National Curriculum and league tables made their first appearance.  

In addition to her service to the School, Dr Spurr enjoyed an enviable reputation on the wider educational scene.  In 1982 she was appointed to the Committee of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA), and served on the initial planning committee for the Assisted Places scheme in London.  This national profile led to the chairing of a number of significant educational organisations which brought valuable links and benefits to the girls, including the Presidency of the GSA from 1985 to 1986.   

On her retirement, Dr Spurr noted that her inspiration as Headmistress had come from three sources: from the girls’ aspirations, enthusiasm and determination, sharp individuality and strength as a group; from the Girls’ Division’s traditions, established by Lord Leverhulme, of high scholarship, of recognising that girls have distinctive educational requirements and of preparing people to make a contribution to the community; and from the comfort of knowing that she had the continual strong support of a team  – the Staff, Sixth Form, Governors, Parents, Old Girls – “all eager to make efforts, and indeed sometimes sacrifices, for the good of us all.” 

One of her Head Girls repaid the compliment: “My memories of Mrs Spurr are encapsulated in images of a big, happy, successful School, its well-oiled wheels gliding smoothly along, the girls going to lessons, to sport, to drama rehearsals …”.  The School’s then Chair of Governors, Lord Haslam, wrote: “Margaret has brought a commendable creative and progressive attitude to the School and indeed to all educational developments. She possesses a unique sense of flair and a lively sense of humour … Working with her has been an enjoyable and uplifting experience”. 

In June 1994, Dr Spurr was awarded the OBE in recognition of her services to education. She was also a Deputy Lieutenant for Staffordshire, and a BBC Governor from 1993 to 1998.  

Dr Spurr will be sincerely missed by all those who knew and remembered her here at School, where the flags will fly at half-mast in tribute to her for the remainder of this week.   

The School invites the submission of tributes to Dr Spurr from all those who remember her fondly, for publication on its website and in the Old Girls’ Newsletter.  To submit your tribute, please click here.  All messages of condolence submitted through the website can be read here The School will be pleased to pass on to Dr Spurr’s family any personal letters or cards of condolence, to be sent c/o The Development Office.   

Dr Spurr’s funeral will be held on Thursday 16 December 2021 at 11am, St Giles Church, Croxden.  Dr Spurr’s family have requested donations to the Alzheimer’s Society in lieu of flowers; any Old Girls or members of the School community who wish to make a contribution or would like any further information about the funeral should contact the Funeral Directors, JP Keates & Sons of Cheadle, Staffs. 

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