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News > Fondly Remembered > NEWMAN, Thelma (Class of 1948, Former Staff 1949-1989)

NEWMAN, Thelma (Class of 1948, Former Staff 1949-1989)

You are warmly welcomed to leave a message below, share your memories, and celebrate the life of Thelma Newman who we sadly lost in 2021

NEWMAN, Thelma (Class of 1948, Former Staff 1949-1989)

This obituary is by Cathy Beavis (Class of 1972, Staff 1978-87, former Chair OWA and Alumni Board)

Thelma Newman 

11 November 1930 - 21 June 2021

Cheadle Hulme School Newman Connections

If you were a pupil or member of staff at CHS between 1939 and 1989, and didn’t know Thelma Newman, she will most probably have known who you were, at least by name if not by sight. Thelma was a pupil from September 1939, when she joined Junior One as ‘Day Girl 62’, to July 1948 (leaving from U6 Arts). She took secretarial qualifications at Miss Wilkinson’s Secretarial Training College in Manchester, one of the best known colleges of the time. She returned to School to work as Headmaster’s Secretary in 1949, and served in this capacity, and latterly as Registrar, until her retirement in 1989. Her service covered the tenure of several headmasters, Mr TTR Lockhart, Mr Douglas Whiting, Mr David Wilcox (twice), Mr Leslie Johnston, and Mr Colin Firth. In recognition of Thelma’s long, varied and valued service to the School she was made a Vice President of the Old Waconians’ Association in 1978; and after her retirement she served on the OWA committee for many years. 

Thelma’s early years at CHS were during WW2 and the family lived in Stanneylands Road, from where Thelma walked about a mile to Handforth Station, past what is now Wilmslow Garden Centre. The short railway journey to Cheadle Hulme Station was followed by another walk to School. She had to carry her gas mask with her as well as her school satchel and ‘picnic’. There were regular air raid drills held both during the day and at night time. The aim was that within 6 minutes of the warning being sounded, the children were out of their dormitories and in the shelter. Thelma reminisced that the Juniors kept their gas masks in their desks together with “a tin containing ‘iron rations’ – chocolate, nuts and raisins etc, to be nibbled in the air raid shelters if ever we had a long stay there. There was quite a lot of nibbling, but not in the shelters! I don’t recall the idea lasted much longer than the rations.” 

Thelma’s brother Keith, seven years younger than Thelma (CHS 1949-1954) met his future wife, Susan Bardsley (CHS 1949-1957) as a pupil at CHS. Susan took a history degree before working for the British Council and later, after her marriage, teaching locally. Keith joined the family firm, Cartwright and Sheldon Ltd in Macclesfield. They wove silk, used mostly for ties but also for silk pictures. He eventually became Managing Director. The (Paradise) Mill in Macclesfield is now part of the Silk Heritage Museum. 

Robert Newman, Thelma’s nephew, was at CHS from 1974 to 1984, when Colin Firth was Headmaster and David Goodison was Junior School head. He was Head Boy in 1983-4 and now lives in Norway, working in a technical role in the Oil Industry for a company called Schlumberger. He says this is as a direct consequence of having the chance to do Geology ‘O’ level with Ian Ray, together with all the excellent Physics and Maths training from Peter Bullock, Don Heffer and others.

Rachel Davison (Newman), Thelma’s niece, was at CHS from 1980 to 1990. She studied history with Michael Scaife and Gwynneth Saunders (Kneebone/Littleton) and English Literature with Alan Kelk and Nigel Westbrook, which led to her reading Law at University. She qualified first as a barrister and then as a solicitor. After a long time working at Clifford Chance, she now works in-house for the litigation team at Deutsche Bank. 

Thelma’s Character and Contribution 

I can do no better than start this section by quoting from a letter sent to Keith and the family from Frank Wetton (Staff 1953-92). He says, “The very name of Thelma brings back so many memories of a quiet, slightly diffident smile and highly competent, professional work. Whenever you needed information about a pupil or member of staff, or, in particular, ‘Where did we put…?’ Thelma was the person to go to”. 

Elements of these comments were mentioned when tributes were paid by Keith, Robert, Rachel and Sarah (another of Thelma’s nieces) at The Service of Thanksgiving for Thelma’s life. Rachel spoke of a book, ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain which examines how modern society has long overlooked naturally quiet and sensitive people in favour of the loudest people who like to talk, even when they have nothing of value to say. Rachel said that Thelma was a person whose innate quietness and modesty belied her strengths and contributions, and whose calmness, total acceptance and non-judgement of people was one of her significant strengths. Sarah developed this theme, describing her aunt as having a serene dignity and a loyal sense of duty. Robert referred to Thelma’s sense of tradition and duty, which had always inspired him. He said she recognised the value of continuity with the past whilst recognising the importance of moving forward. She was open to progress and embraced the modern world. Keith’s memories of Thelma focussed on her stoicism and fortitude, and he referenced the long journeys she had, during wartime, going from home to school and back again. 

Many readers will remember Thelma in her role as Baloo (a traditional name from the Jungle Book) with the School Cub Pack, as shown in the photograph of her, in uniform, with the Cub Pack and Scout Troop. There are others we could have chosen including school holidays in Shanklin (IOW) and youth hostelling in Luxembourg.

Thelma’s life was not completely subsumed by CHS! She was a member of the Wilmslow Guild and various Church Groups, as well as being an avid gardener. Her interests included art classes, cookery and local history. She was also a member of the staff badminton group which met in the Old Gym in the early days. 

I want to close by quoting from Sarah, who said, “She was someone I will always be proud to have been my aunt.” I think that all of us, in whatever context we knew Thelma, will remember her with the same affection and appreciation.

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