Woman who helped set up special needs school dies

John Grant School

John Grant School - Credit: Archant

A woman who helped set up and was the first head teacher of a special needs school has died.

Picture of the John Grant School in Caister on Sea for children with special needs.
Photo: Angela S

Picture of the John Grant School in Caister on Sea for children with special needs. Photo: Angela Sharpe - Credit: Archant © 2008

Honor Clegg was instrumental in establishing the John Grant School in Caister in the 1970s and ran the facility for 30 years.

She was born in December 1945 on the Isle of Wight to Bob and Ruth Clegg, before going to primary school in Totland and attending teacher training college in Dorset.

After graduation Ms Clegg worked in various schools across England, from York to Southend-on-Sea, before settling in Caister in the 1970s.

A new school, for children with special needs, was being opened in the village - and Ms Clegg was offered the job of head teacher.

It was a role she took on with relish, getting involved in the planning and design of the building itself, telling the architects where she wanted the gym, the dining-room, the assembly hall.

Only 24 years old, she was the youngest head teacher of such a school in the country at the time.

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Her brother, Ben Clegg, 65, who lives in Lowestoft, said: “She was a high flyer. My sister was very strong-minded, she never suffered fools gladly.”

Mr Clegg stayed with his sister in Caister for two months in 1979.

He said she was “always flying about left, right and centre, going to charity events, raising money for the school”.

Outside work Ms Clegg was a talented soprano singer and “wonderful wordsmith” who wrote poetry and shared with her journalist father a love of the English language.

This love was evident also in her frequent “crossword phonecalls” with her brother.

“We used to do the crossword puzzle together, long distance over the phone. We would buy the same paper and call each other,” Mr Clegg said.

She worked at the John Grant School for 30 years and took early retirement, at the age of 54, before returning to the Isle of Wight to look after her mother, a singer and actress, who had become ill.

Mr Clegg said that since his sister died he has received cards and phonecalls from all over the UK, as well as France, Belgium and Holland.

“She had a wide circle of friends,” he said.

He recalled one Christmas visiting his sister.

“I got 20 or 30 Christmas cards. But she had over 300. I said, ‘Good God’, and she said, ‘Now I’ve got to send them all one back’.”

Ms Clegg died on February 21 at a care home of the Isle of Wight.

Her funeral is on Thursday (March 19) at St Saviour’s in Totland.

She is survived by her brother and his wife Patricia.