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News > Fondly Remembered > FREER, Beryl (Staff Member 1971 - 1987)

FREER, Beryl (Staff Member 1971 - 1987)

5 November 1926 - 26 December2021

Beryl Freer was a member of staff at CHS from 1971 to 1987.

Born and brought up in Leicester, Beryl attended Newarke Girls’ School where she was Head Girl in her last year. She went on to read History at Bedford College, University of London, followed by a Teaching Diploma from the Institute of Education. She taught history in two schools, the second as Head of Department at the age of 26, before marriage to Allen and the birth of her two daughters Catharine and Mary (both later pupils at CHS) took her out of the classroom. However she kept her hand in by working as an A level History examiner.

It was a career move by Allen that eventually brought her to Cheadle Hulme. When he took up a new appointment as an Inspector of School for Manchester the family moved to Ack Lane, within walking distance of the school. That made CHS an ideal place for her eventually to resume her teaching career. In 1967, shortly after the move to Cheadle Hulme, Beryl answered an advertisement for a temporary history teacher at CHS for one term. She enjoyed the term so much that when a permanent position in the History Department arose in 1971, she leapt at the opportunity – and the History Department was delighted to welcome her. The post was at first part time but from 1974 to 1987 Beryl was a full time member of staff, teaching History to A level and – such was her versatility - Junior School French.

Beryl was a gifted teacher. She could go straight from teaching Junior School French to A level History and be equally successful in both. It goes without saying that her knowledge of her subject was first class, but what made her an outstanding teacher was her ability to convey her enthusiasm for the subject. She brought historical personalities and periods to life, often by enacting them. One former pupil recalled one of her lessons: ‘I am Catherine the Great and you are the peasants’ (we were always the peasants).

History – her subject – was dear to Beryl but an account of her influence at CHS would be incomplete without reference to her role as a form teacher. Colin Firth said of her, ‘There was no form better cared for than hers’. She had a genuine interest in and concern for the young people in her charge. All her dealings with pupils (and indeed with colleagues) were infused with the warmth of her personality. The number of former pupils who were still in touch with her many years after her retirement bears witness to the regard in which she was held.

Beryl had a strong sense of culture, which she deployed to great effect in her teaching, introducing students to the great art of the past. She carried this into retirement, travelling all over Europe and to Russia and the USA and volunteering for the Friends of the Whitworth Art Gallery. She and Allen edited and published the Travel Journals of Robert Hyde Greg in 2007. She and Allen assembled an extraordinary art collection which made their home into a miniature art gallery.

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