THE 1930's


Erm, a bit of a problem here!

Surely, someone must have done something?

Does anyone know of any famous Old Girls of Lawnswood High School? ('Infamous' would do...)

PLEASE, PLEASE, please e-mail lhs.alumnae@gmail.com


“We need actresses, singers, writers, artists and dancers, inventors, Nobel prize winners! I'm sure Lawnswood must have produced a few of those.” Jean Crystall ’59-’64

I’m hoping to find Old Girls whose fame transcends their own generation. As yet, I’ve been unsuccessful. However, I can offer some Old Girls who achieved great eminence in their day. Thanks to those who drew these illustrious alumnae to my attention.



Catherine was at Lawnswood from 1967 to 1974, i.e. during the time of the change-over. She went on to study at Hertford College, Oxford. Catherine became a journalist working on many different publications. She was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009. Her c.v. can be found here on WhoComments.org.


Rebecca was at school from 1965 to 1972. After time spent at Newcastle University, Oxford University and in Manhattan, Rebecca began writing children’s books. Over the last twenty years, many of her stories have been published. Much more info on Rebecca's website.


“I was at Lawnswood from 1965 - 1972 and then went on to the University of Newcastle to study fine art and afterwards to Reading University for an M.A, also in fine art. I am still very much involved with this and exhibit my work - painting and photography - internationally, most recently in Beijing last year. I lecture in fine art part-time at the University of Hertfordshire, but live in the Cotswolds. I am married to a German artist, Stephan, and we have a daughter, Frederika.”

You can visit Alison’s website here.


Jane would have been at Lawnswood from about 1956 to 1963. Click here to see her obituary from The Guardian of 20th August 2009. This gives a very good summary of her life and career.


Jean was at school during the late 40’s / early 50’s. After leaving, she went to the Royal College of Music in Manchester where she studied opera. Jean entered for the first Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Competition, winning the Blackpool heat against 97 other competitors.

At the final she was heard by D'Oyly Carte and asked to audition. She joined the company in March 1956. During the four years that she was with them she played Princess Aida, Mabel, Josephine, Elsie Maynard, Patience and Gianetta, and recorded Mabel, Josephine, Yum Yum and Rose Maybud. From 1956-60 she was one of the two principal soloists and was known as ‘the definitive Aida’ after her performance as Princess Aida. She married and left the company when expecting her first child.

Jean rejoined D’Oyly Carte for one year in 1962/3 when she toured America and Canada with the Company. She then continued to guest for them and do other concert work until 1969.

There are many references to Jean on the Internet. Amazon.com have some Gilbert & Sullivan CD’s featuring Jean; click here for more details.

Thanks to Irene Furze, we have a photo of Jean and a review of her performance in one of our school productions, “Merrie England”. Click here to see it; also another page from the LHS magazine of 1950 in which her contributions to the school’s celebrations of the Bach Bi-Centenary are reviewed.

(Dr. Elizabeth Norman McKay)

Elizabeth was at Lawnswood High School during the 1940’s. I believe she left in 1947/48. She went to Bristol University and gained a degree in physics. She then worked in London as a pianist, accompanist and repetiteur. In 1961 she was awarded a D.Phil from Oxford for her thesis on Schubert’s music for the theatre. She was formerly a tutor in piano and visiting professor at the Birmingham Conservatoire.

In 1996 Elizabeth published “Franz Schubert — A Biography”. Copies can be obtained from Amazon.com and various other Internet booksellers.

Elizabeth is a member of the Schubert Institute. Other publications include a book on Schubert’s music for the theatre and many contributions to symposia and dictionaries. She is a regular contributor to radio and television programmes concerning Schubert and has also written articles for an American organisation called the “Beethoven Journal”.

JANET RAWLINS is well known in North Yorkshire as a watercolour artist and illustrator. She was at school from 1938 to 1944 and was one of the children evacuated during WWII (see ‘The Evacuation To Ripon’ page). Janet has supplied a brief c.v., which is as follows:

B. 1931. Educ. Lawnswood High School, Great Moreton Hall, Cheshire.
Leeds College of Art ‘47-’52 NDD Illustration, ATD.
Taught for 2 years then returned to Leeds to free-lance. Large scale architectural commissions in collage for Derek Walker. (Old Modernian. He later designed the Royal Armouries).
Other commissions for hotels, ICI, National Coal Board, International Wool Secretariat. Exhibited locally & Royal Academy (watercolours). Taught adults at Swarthmore Education Centre. Married Kenneth Parfitt 1958. One son. Illustrated for Dalesman, Waddingtons, childrens’ books. Opened Bain Studio in Bainbridge, Wensleydale (part time) 1970-73, Kenneth Parfitt died 1971. Between 1971 & 1982 produced 40 large embroidered fabric collages for windows in branches of Leeds Permanent Building Society. Moved to Bainbridge 1975. Married John G. (Peter) Leyland 1982. Solo exhibitions at Fountains Hall, and three at Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes.

I don’t have a Website address for Janet, but key her name into a search engine and you’ll find several references to her on the internet.

Janet also designed some pictures for jigsaws produced by Waddingtons of Leeds and London.

ELAINE BURTON (Baroness Burton of Coventry)

Elaine Burton was born in 1904, the daughter of an Olympic hurdler, and was herself very athletic. She was at school during the 1920s. In the 1936 school magazine she is referred to as ‘conducting P.T. classes in an Unemployment Welfare Centre in South Wales’.

Before WW2 she was a teacher and then a member of the South Wales Council of Social Services. In 1950 she became Labour MP for Coventry South. Twelve years later she was elevated to the peerage.

I quote from Michael Meadowcroft — former M.P and presently Chair of the Trustees of the Leeds Library:
“She is an intriguing person having abandoned a teaching career in Leeds in 1935 to go and work with the unemployed in South Wales. She then got involved with the short-lived leftist party Common Wealth which fought a number of by-elections during the Second World War - and won some of them. Elaine contested the Hartlepool by-election on 1st June 1943. She was then a Labour candidate in 1945 and then won a Coventry seat for Labour 1950-1959. She was subsequently ennobled as Lady Burton of Coventry and joined the SDP in 1981!

“Common Wealth candidate, 1943, Labour MP for Coventry, 1950-59, and created a Life Peer in 1962. Often regarded as on the Left of party, but joined the SDP in 1981. She was a pupil of Leeds Modern School, a student at Beckett Park College and worked as a teacher in Leeds, 1924-1935.”

In 1941, Elaine wrote a book called ‘What Of The Women?’ concerning the situation of women in wartime.

In 1953, Elaine devised a card game called “Crown The Queen” to celebrate the Coronation. Click here to see the card pack and info about the game.

Thanks to a site called ‘The Centre For The Advancement Of Women In Politics’, I’ve uncovered the following information about Elaine Burton:

Elaine Burton (Baroness Burton of Coventry)
Date of Birth 2 March 1904
Family Unmarried
Education Leeds City Training College
Early career Teacher, social worker, journalist, PR consultant
Early political experience Contested Hartlepool (1943), Hendon (1945)
Years in parliament House of Commons: 1950-59, def., House of Lords: 1962-91
Party Labour, SDP (1981-)
Constituency Coventry South
Offices held None
Opposition portfolios SDP spokesman on civil aviation and consumer affairs
Other public offices Founder member National Federation of Business and Professional Women, Sports Council (1965-71)
Honours or titles Life peerage (1962)
Death 6 October 1991


Elsie Suddaby (1893-1980) was a leading British soprano of the inter-war years. Miss Suddaby was a pupil of Sir Edward Bairstow and a star of the concert hall for over 40 years. She was a pioneer of both broadcasting and the gramophone. She was known as ‘The Lass With The Delicate Air’ (taken from the title of one of her most popular songs).

Amazon.com have several CDs featuring Elsie Suddaby. Click here for more details. (You can even listen to samples of a few of her recordings.)

Our Elsie performed several solo pieces at the 1954 Lawnswood High School Centenary concert in the Town Hall. Elsie is named in the programme as contributing to the concert “as an Old Girl of the school”. One can only imagine Miss Clayton’s delight at having such a celebrity perform under her baton!

A copy of the Centenary Concert programme, signed by Elsie herself, can be seen by clicking here. (Thanks to autograph-hunter Irene Furze for supplying the programme.)

It’s nice to know that there is a room in the Town Hall named after Elsie. I quote from the Leeds City Of Music website“It is especially good to have a prominent room beneath the stage named after one of Yorkshire's queens of song – the lyric soprano Elsie Suddaby.”

“I understood that Gaynor Faye, daughter of Kay Mellor and actress who played Judy Mallett in Corrie was an old girl. Don't know how true that is.” Janet China ’65-’70

[I think Gaynor Faye must have been an Old Girl of Lawnswood School, not Lawnswood High School. S.M.]

“I was at Lawnswood School from 1985-90, and I think Gaynor would have been in the year above me. She still lives in Leeds of course, as do her parents, who live in Weetwood.” Maia Dageurre ’85-’90

This may be a good place to mention that, although not famous, many of the teachers were themselves Old Girls of the school. From the Centenary Brochure, I see that as far back as 1894, teachers Miss Parsons and Miss Hitchcock were both graduate Old Girls. Later, Miss Stowell (for whom a House was named) returned to teach after herself being a pupil. In more recent times, Miss Agnes Clayton and Mrs. Constance Dove, who wrote the school song together, were Alumnae, as was Miss Christine Tweedie, who taught Domestic Science. Over the years, there must be many other examples of Old Girls who have returned to teach, and have given a lifetime of service to the school.

I’ve been given the names of some Old Girls who have received Honours. These ladies may not be famous, but it might be of interest to their contemporaries to know what became of them.

JANE DAVIES (née Baxendale), OBE
Jane was at Lawnswood from 1962 to 1969. A few of her anecdotes are quoted throughout the site and she features in a couple of photos.

After Lawnswood, Jane went to St Annes College, Oxford, and after graduation worked at BP for 18 years in a range of roles including international oil trader in New York and regional manager of BP’s international aviation business, Air BP. During her time with BP she also spent two years on secondment to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. On leaving BP, Jane ran the Buxton (Opera) Festival for four years.

Jane Davies was appointed Chief Executive of Manchester Science Parks Ltd (msp) in October 2000. She was Chairman of the UK Science Park Association from 2007 to 2009, has served two terms on the board of the International Association of Science Parks and was appointed President of its Advisory Council in 2009.

Under her leadership, msp expanded its operations to facilities on four sites in Greater Manchester, and has invested in people and processes to strengthen the links between its tenant companies and its university shareholders. The science park and its tenants are seen as an important part of Manchester’s innovation system and msp works closely with the city’s investment agency, to attract overseas companies to set up their businesses in the city region.

Jane’s services to innovation were recognised by the award of an OBE in the Queen’s 2010 Birthday Honours, for innovation.

Jane left the Science Park in 2012 and now works as a non-executive director, and as an independent consultant to science park developments in South America, New Zealand, Australia and the Middle-East.

Picture and short bio: http://www.st-annes.ox.ac.uk/about/news/item/jane-davies-obe.html

Thanks to Jane’s brother Simon Baxendale for this.

Joyce spent practically all her working life caring for others.

After leaving college at the age of 19 Joyce volunteered for wartime service in the WAAF and served at stations in England, AFHQ in Paris and later with the Control Commission in Berlin. After her release from the Forces she volunteered for service abroad with the WVS and spent over 20 years in Malaysia and China caring for the families of Ghurkha soldiers. The Yorkshire Post ran an article about her when she left for the Far East, dubbing her ‘Jungle Joyce’. For 18 months after returning to England she was stationed in Emsworth and was involved in welfare duties for repatriated soldiers.

In recognition of her services abroad and in England she was awarded the MBE in 1967, and made an honorary member of the Ghurkha association.

From 1972 to 1982 Joyce managed a DGAA (Distressed Gentlefolks Aid Association) home in Tunbridge Wells. The home was testament to her talents for organisation and for creating and maintaining order; and - not least - flower arranging.

On retirement in 1982 she moved to Forestside, only to be made homeless in 1988 when the great storm severely damaged her property. She then spent several happy years in a flat in Chichester, moving into residential care when severe memory loss started to become apparent in 1996.

Joyce was great fun and a good role model for a niece: worldly and well-travelled, fiercely independent, and a lover of the finer things in life – good friends, parties, dogs, nice shoes and clothes, shopping, antiques, gin and tonic… She had a tremendously positive outlook on life, was devoted to her dachshunds, a crossword fiend, and often said that she wouldn’t have traded her life and experiences in the Far East for anything. As with most things, she approached her dementia in its early stages with a good deal of awareness, pragmatism, stoicism and bravery. She retained her sense of humour to the end.

Thanks to Janet Rawlins and to Joyce’s niece Debbie for this info.

Jane was at school from 1966 to 1972. She was awarded her MBE in the 2005 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for “services to young people”. Her husband received the same award. Jane tells me that she and her husband have been volunteers all their lives. In fact, Jane’s volunteering started whilst she was still at Lawnswood. One day, a speaker from Leeds Family Services Unit came to the school to ask for play-scheme workers. Jane put up her hand and has never looked back.


Sylvia was at school during the 1950s. She trained as a nurse at Leeds General Infirmary but after a short time was drawn to the Carmelite Order of nuns. Three years later, Sylvia felt that the religious order was not for her, and left to continue her nursing career. Eventually she felt that she was being called to a different life. In 1982 Sylvia sold her possessions and headed for India. During her time there, she has: started a mobile clinic, acquired her first hospital, built a school for deaf children, opened a vocational training centre, started a scheme for the grossly mentally retarded, and many more such medical facilities. Meanwhile, back home in Leeds, friends set up the Sylvia Wright Trust to provide funds to support Sylvia’s work.

The Trust’s website is at http://www.sylviawright.org/.

The Yorkshire Evening Post on-line / Leeds Today News has five articles about Sylvia, dating back to 2001. To see them, go to the Yorkshire Evening Post home page and enter "Sylvia Wright" (in quotes) into the Search box..

I have not yet discovered why Phyllis received an MBE, or when she was at school. The only mention is in the 1966 school magazine —

“The ‘Old Girls’ would like to congratulate one of their members, Miss Phyllis Dowley on receiving the MBE in the New Year's Honours List.”

I’ve not yet been able to establish when Mary was at school — possibly the 1920’s?

Mary started her career as a French teacher, and then became a schools’ inspector. In 1957 Mary founded a publishing house specialising in French textbooks and magazines that would be of appeal and interest to students. (Click here to see their website.) The magazines were a big success, and the Company now publishes seventeen magazines for students of many different languages.

Mary retired to France in the 1970, having first obtained a pilot’s licence, so that she could fly herself back and forth.

Subsequently, a Trust was set up. — “The Mary Glasgow Language Trust is an independent registered charity, set up in 1978 by Mary Glasgow CBE, and continues in memory of her and her tireless work in promoting the cause of modern language teaching and learning.”

Click here to read Mary’s biog. notes.

“I remember being told by Miss George that a former pupil, Mary Glasgow, was coming to speak to us in assembly about the Publishing House she had founded, and in due course the day came. I remember listening to her talk but unfortunately can't recall much of what she actually said. Later, as a teacher of Modern Languages myself, I made good use of the text books and courses published by Mary Glasgow; they were especially useful for teaching the less academic, when we had to teach foreign languages to all.” Heather Newman ’53-’60

If anyone has any further information on any of these Old Girls, please contact lhs.alumnae@gmail.com