RIP Phyllis Riddiford

Share your memories and stories from the Hertford Christ's Hospital School, which closed in 1985, when the two schools integrated to the Horsham site....

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kerrensimmonds
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Re: RIP Phyllis Riddiford

Post by kerrensimmonds » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:56 pm

Yes, that's the first thing I found - but there's no date on it. She is not mentioned on the Church website and although there is a Junior Choir, it is not her name which is the contact. Off to do some more digging, Sherlock!
Kerren Simmonds
5's and 2's Hertford, 1957-1966

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Re: RIP Phyllis Riddiford

Post by kerrensimmonds » Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:33 pm

Apologies to all .. and especially to Jean Taverner. I must have got this wrong, and I am sorry for precipitating Jean into the realms of the future life. My friend Sue (Evans) confirms that she has not heard of Jean's demise and she thinks (as do I, now) that I must have been confused by the passing of Jean's friend, Nancy Cordery, which was last year if not the year before.
So, again, huge apologies. May Jean Taverner continue for years to come with the Winchelsea Singers and playing the organ in her local Church.
Kerren Simmonds
5's and 2's Hertford, 1957-1966

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englishangel
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Re: RIP Phyllis Riddiford

Post by englishangel » Thu Apr 07, 2011 11:15 pm

"If a man speaks, and there isn't a woman to hear him, is he still wrong?"

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Re: RIP Phyllis Riddiford

Post by mvgrogan » Fri Apr 08, 2011 11:40 am

Kim2s70-77 wrote:
fra828 wrote:RIP Miss Riddiford..... BUT I have mostly bad memories of her, her sudden change of mood, cruel remarks when marking work and she was ONLY encouraging if you were doing well already, she had little patience otherwise. I could write a lot more but it would be disrespectful... Now Mr Watson, I would really care about what happened to him as he possessed a rare quality among Hertford staff, geniune compassion.



I have to thank Mr Watson for the Lancashire French accent I developed after classes with him!! His wife also came in for 'French conversation', around the time of "O" levels. Lancashire French is really quite unique!!
Yes - Mr Watson - banging out a rhythm on the desk with a rule while we recited verbs! and "underline that three times in red biro".
Maria Vatanen nee Grogan 6's (6:12) 81-85 BaB (BaB48) 85-87

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Re: RIP Phyllis Riddiford

Post by Alexandra Thrift » Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:08 pm

Somewhat belatedly , I would like to add Phyllis Riddeiford's Hertford Choral Society's obituary. Thankyou Jo for the link.

Miss Riddiford was a nice, enthusiastic lady...I remember her smiling and singing with gusto in the choir stalls in chapel. We affectionately called her " The purple headed mountain"...an allusion to her mauve rinse , her larger than life persona and of course
the hymn " All Things Bright and Beautiful"

From the Hertford Choral Society Magazine:
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Phyllis Riddiford died 31 Oct 2010 aged 91


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Phyllis was cremated during a humanist ceremony at Stevenage on 23 Nov 10. The many HCS members there sang Mozart’s Ave verum corpus. Phyllis was born 16 June 1919 in Sydenham. At school she showed great promise in her understanding of foreign languages. At 16 she competed for and won an LCC grant to pay for 3 months in France. She won another grant the following year and went to Munich. She graduated with BA Honours in Modern Languages in 1941 from Bedford College, London University. Then followed a series of teaching posts. She met her lifelong friend, Nell Munt at Pinner County High School. Later, Phyllis taught at Christ’s Hospital School for Girls in Hertford and, after retirement, taught for 2 years at Haileybury. She shared a house with Nell in Hertford Heath until Nell died.

Phyllis was irrepressible, indefatigable and with an indomitable attitude to everything. One story that sums her up concerns her arrival at Gard du Nord, Paris, complete as usual, with many suitcases. She loudly summoned a member of staff to carry her cases to the taxi. He did of course but when they got to the taxi, it transpired that he was not a porter at all - but the station- master; such was Phyllis’s power!

The following tribute was given by Phyllis’s niece, by marriage, Eileen Riddiford.
Phyllis has many friends here today; from the town twinning associations, Friends of Wildeshausen and Friends of Evron, that she was long attached to, and from the Hertford Choral Society. On behalf of all those friends, I want to share some of the memories of Phyllis that have been passed to us. I remember reading in a William Boyd novel a line that struck me as so simple yet so true that I have never forgotten it... “The last thing you ever know about yourself is the effect you have on other people”. How appropriate for Phyllis. It is clear from how many of you are here today that Phyllis left her mark and I am sure she would be really touched to see this demonstration of the high regard in which she was held.

I come from a big family - my mother was one of seven sisters - four of whom did not marry but who were all very independent, forthright and proud English women. So I thought I was pretty well prepared before I was introduced to Aunty Phyllis by George (Phyllis’s nephew) way back in 1986. But OH NO - little did I know; they certainly broke the mould when they made Phyllis! But she welcomed me into the family with gusto, great affection and of course cries of “MARVELLOUS - we MUST have champagne!”

She was always interested in and supportive of whatever I was doing and even came down to Hampshire when I was putting on a play (she came by taxi of course and laden with enough bags for a world cruise!!). I can remember we were doing The Importance of Being Ernest and her laughter was heard above all others ringing round and ricocheting off the walls of the hall! “Who IS that out there?” the other performers were asking in the green room. “Oh don’t worry - that’s just Auntie Phyllis,” I explained.

When her long time companion, Nell, passed away in 1997, I remember driving up to Hertford to help a pretty shocked Phyllis with all the arrangements. As I explained what we would need to get through that day, she turned to me saying “OK Eil, but before I can face ANYTHING else, I’ve GOT to have a steak and a glass of wine!!” That was Phyl and thus fortified, she got on with it all.

So who in HCS and the Friends Twinning associations didn’t know Phyllis Riddiford? In the choir she was the second soprano who invariably arrived for any event at the very last moment. Apparently many of you will remember how she confidently walked into a recording session in 1991 just as Derek had raised his arms and you all had drawn breath ready to sing? Or the time you waited in St Brieuc for her to board the coach? Was it her handbag, umbrella, music or cigarettes that she’d left behind? Or remember the nonchalant way she pushed her heavily laden trolley to the coach at Bremen Airport - almost missing several car wing mirrors. But you all remember that Phyllis was a tremendously good sport - entering fully into the spirit of any occasion. In a Hertford Choral Society newsletter in 1994, many Phyllis magic moments and insights into her passions are revealed - how she enjoyed life, good food, French wine and congenial company; how she loved cats and dogs. But after the death of her last dog, she vowed never to have another, as she couldn’t face the trauma of loving and losing another.

Being something of a culture vulture she liked to look at Renaissance Italian art and French Impressionists in situ, for, being fluent in French, German and Italian (with some Russian and Spanish) she loved to travel around Europe and had contacts and friends everywhere. She was also on the committee of the Friends of Wildeshausen and, with her communication skills, was an ideal secretary of The Friends of Evron.

She loved her music; all kinds from Bach to Britten, taking every opportunity to hear live music - operas, concerts, the Aldeburgh Music Festival, Glyndebourne. Singers she admired included Janet Baker, Felicity Lott and the three tenors, Carreras, Domingo and Pavarotti - preferably all at once. The Misa Criolla with Carreras was one of her favourite pieces. But Jo Stafford singing Allen Town Jail was the first record she bought.

Phyllis joined HCS in 1974 and never missed out on any of HCS’s concerts or trips abroad. St Brieuc lingered long in her memory (and many others by the sound of it!). She loved the atmosphere engendered by all the choirs - especially the lively spirit and flamenco-style dancing of the Spanish choir from Salamanca.

Perfect happiness for her, she told the newsletter, was sitting on the terrace of her brother Dennis’s flat on the Island of the Giudecca in Venice, with a glass of red wine, staring out over the waters of the lagoon into the sunset with the strains of ‘the three tenors’ singing O sole mio drifting through the ether. When asked about favourite music as performed by HCS she replied that Bach’s B Minor Mass came out top. But if you were to ask her next week she might say Verdi’s Requiem. But this week it would be Vaughan Williams’s Sea Symphony. Having listened to a broadcast on Three Counties Radio of the definitive Harrison version, Phyllis found the whole experience profoundly moving. When it finished, she (uncharacteristically) burst into tears. A particular passion was for Russian Orthodox Church music, which she hoped to go and hear in its natural setting one day. Other unfulfilled ambitions she revealed included - wait for it - learning to ride and ski and running a guest house (obviously with lots of staff). Phyllis was a larger than life, no nonsense character, laughing and buoyant – with curves.

To say they don’t make them like that anymore is one huge understatement!

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Re: RIP Phyllis Riddiford

Post by Terri » Mon Jul 18, 2011 7:00 pm

Rather belatedly (I don't visit the forum that much) I would like to add my own memories of Miss Riddiford. She was certainly unforgettable and she was the one person who kept me going through the Senior Sixth and Oxbridge. Mr and Mrs Watson would reduce me to tears in every French lesson, telling me I was not good enough for Cambridge but Miss Riddiford kept me going and hey I did it and for that I will always remember her.
It now seems that all of the teachers from the 70s have shuffled off this mortal coil, certainly those who taught me but they all seemed very old then with the exception of Mrs Rooney (what happened to her?) so they must all have been in their fifties then and it was more than 30 years ago.
Enough rambling - truly RIP Phyllis Riddiford.
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