Tribute to 'marvellous' Norwich headmistress who loved her job

Patricia Dove, the former head at Colman First School, has died aged 91

Patricia Dove, the former head at Colman First School, has died aged 91. Here she is aged 16 - Credit: SUPPLIED

The family of a much-loved retired headmistress has paid tribute to the woman who reached the pinnacle of her career.

Born from a family of educated women, Patricia Dove, the former head at Colman First School, Norwich, has died aged 91. 

She was first welcomed into the world on Primrose Day (April 19) 1930 in County Durham and was the only daughter of artist Alf Seth and his wife Betty. 

Patricia Dove at Kinsale Avenue School with her children Susan and Richard

Patricia Dove at Kinsale Avenue School with her children Susan and Richard - Credit: SUPPLIED

She attended Rutherford High School before boarding a train with her bicycle in 1948, aged 18, to join St Mary’s College cohort ay Cheltenham to train to be a teacher. 

Her daughter Susan Spoerer, 67, of Morton-on-the-Hill near Norwich, described her mother as “a clever girl right from early childhood”.

She added: “She loved reading and English. She was also quite the craftswoman and loved all sorts of crafting. 

“She once completed a project on Native Americans, as it was a topic she loved, but was most unimpressed when it was taken away to be shown to other schools due to its successfulness, only for it to never be returned to her.” 

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She also enjoyed learning about trains and railways. 

Mrs Dove followed in the footsteps of her mother and aunt, who also trained to be teachers. During her own studies, she specialised in teaching younger years as well as English, geography, history, religious instruction, and home craft.  

During her time at St Mary’s, she met her future husband Laurie Dove, of Wymondham, on Cheltenham promenade. He had been demobbed from the Royal Air Force and was then attending the linked college of St Paul’s. 

She graduated in 1950, by which point the couple were engaged, but they had to wait until after her 21st birthday before they could marry. 

The Dove's on their wedding day

The Dove's on their wedding day - Credit: SUPPLIED

While she went on to teach in Gateshead, near Newcastle, Mr Dove took up a teaching position in Birmingham. They eventually married on April 5, 1952, and after a brief time both spent teaching in Birmingham, they took up new roles in Crawley, Sussex, during the early 1950s. 

In 1954, their daughter was born, and two years later the family relocated to Wymondham after a brief time at Horton near Gatwick. In Norfolk, Mr Dove, together with his father Benjamin, built a new house. 

The couple then had a son, Richard, in 1956. 

In 1970, Cringleford, just outside of Norwich, was beginning to develop so the family moved once again. 

By this point, Mrs Dove’s carer had taken her from a supply teacher at Bluebell High School, off Bluebell Road, to teaching infants at Kinsale Avenue School in Hellesdon and later deputy head at Cavell First School. She was then appointed as headmistress at Colman First School where she stayed until her retirement. 

Patricia Dove, the former head at Colman First School, pictured with her staff

Patricia Dove, the former head at Colman First School, pictured with her staff - Credit: SUPPLIED

Mrs Spoerer added: “That was her absolute forte. She was marvellous at her job and had many successful inspections during her time there. She loved it. 

“It was quite obvious that lots of the parents and pupils loved her too because when she went out after she retired, she was often stopped by people she taught or their relatives who would say that she had taught them.” 

In later life, Mrs Dove continued to enjoy reading as well as crossword puzzles and travelling. With her young family, she would spend the summer holidays in the south of France and other areas of Europe, and during retirement, the couple travelled to Africa and cruised the world. 

The Dove's cruising around the world

The Dove's cruising around the world - Credit: SUPPLIED

In Norfolk, the family would spend a lot of time at their beach hut and caravan in Wells, on the north Norfolk coast, describing it as “a home away from home”. 

She was a “much-loved grandmother and great-grandmother" who doted on her family. 

The Dove's family Christmas 2018

The Dove's family Christmas 2018 - Credit: SUPPLIED

Mrs Dove died at home on June 7. 

A celebration of her life took place at St. Peter's Church, in Cringleford on June 24. Donations in her memory have been raised for The Alzheimer's Society via

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