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Patricia Rutherford

11 March 2022

Redcar and Cleveland College

Sister Anita OHP writes:

PATRICIA, generally known as Pat, was born and brought up in Redcar, on the north-east coast. All her life, she simply loved the sea, with its fascinating, changing moods. Her father was a pharmacist and encouraged his daughter to make a career for herself.

Pat attended Saltburn High School, where her academic talents were nurtured. She was encouraged to take part in extra-curricular activities, which laid a good foundation for her future. From school, she went to King’s College, Newcastle (then part of Durham University), to read mathematics with Swedish, a rather unusual second subject. She undertook her teaching training at Nottingham University, and then became a junior maths teacher at the Manning School.

A brief engagement was amicably ended: it is a cliché, but truly she was married to her job. She proved to be an excellent teacher, helping many girls to like her subject and not a few to make their own careers in a mathematical field. Pat loved every aspect of school life, running the Guide company and acting as a housemistress, arranging and accompanying outings, ranging from a day trip to Wimbledon to a skiing holiday in Austria.

In all she had 14 years at Manning, the last six as head of mathematics, and, when she left, the school magazine noted that “She has been a constant inspiration . . . a source of help to the whole staff and school. We are proud of her promotion and our loss is Cleveland’s gain.” For Pat was returning home to be deputy head of the girls’ grammar school in Redcar, and to “keep an eye on her father” after her mother had died. This was a good post for her, with all her skills and experience, and she learned more from the school’s excellent head.

Then along came the comprehensive system. Pat was a member of the education committee that made the plans for comprehensive schools in Cleveland, and, in 1975, she became the founding head of Rye Hills, Redcar’s first comprehensive. This was quite a different scene from her previous posts, but all taken in her stride.

After retirement, she served as a governor of a primary school and a further-education college, and was a keen member of associations of past staff and students from the schools that she had been connected with. Many small local charities also benefited from her help.

Behind all this professional activity was a deep and devout commitment to the faith and to the Church. In later life, Pat would describe how, aged nine, walking down to the beach, she had decided that she would always go to church: a promise she kept faithfully.

Her high school had used Romans 12.1-5 as its “school reading”, and Pat had taken it to heart. She served the church in so many ways: churchwarden, chair of deanery synod, member of diocesan synod, and some of their committees, and the Archbishop’s Council.

Just a few years ago, Dr Sentamu said to her, “I liked having you on my Council. You didn’t speak often, but when you did it was always worth hearing.” I dare say he had no idea how thrilled she was. She was also very thrilled to receive the Maundy money when the Queen came to York in 2012.

Pat coped well with increasing disability and the need for residential care, keeping in touch with people and events by mobile phone or laptop. To the end, this was a life lived with the grace of God, knowing herself to be part of the body of Christ.

Committed Christian, gifted teacher, able administrator, wonderful friend, dear Pat, we shall miss you very much. Rest in peace and rise in glory.


Pat Rutherford died on 20 February, aged 89.

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