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Former teacher Clarice Howorth dies aged 86
8:00am Thursday 14th February 2013 in News
A North Craven woman, who worked as a teacher in Africa for more than 30 years, has died at the age of 86.
Clarice Howorth (formerly Garnett) was born in Rathmell, where her father was a builder.
From both her parents she acquired a deep sense of being rooted in the village, particularly in the Methodist Church.
This was something she never lost, even though she spent more than 30 years thousands of miles away.
She was educated at Rathmell Primary School and Settle High School before going to study at St Hugh’s College, Oxford.
After a short period teaching in this country, she felt a call to work for the Methodist Church overseas and so in September 1950 she arrived at Wesley Girls’ High School, Cape Coast, Ghana to take up her post as biology teacher.
This was still in the Colonial period but independence was in the air and most of Clarice’s career was to be concerned with the necessary changes.
She was involved in the Africanisation of the biology syllabus which until then had been exactly the same as this country, including study of the snowdrop!
When the secondary department split from the junior part of the school soon after independence and moved into new buildings, she went with it.
In 1960 the previous headmistress retired and Clarice, as the only Methodist missionary on the staff, was obliged to take on the role.
Until her retirement in 1981 Clarice continued to guide the school through political coups – a number of the girls were the daughters of prominent politicians – changes of syllabus, the expansion of pupil numbers, the Africanisation of the staff.
In the early days very few African women graduates were available but as time went on it became possible to staff the school from home-grown talent.
She also applied her father’s training to overseeing the building of new classrooms, dormitories and a school sanatorium – and really enjoyed a chance to sneak out of the office to deal with an underperforming toilet.
In 1981 the Ghanaian Government awarded her the Order of the Volta.
In this country she received the MBE for services to education.
On her return to Rathmell she settled back as if she had never been away.
She took on the village shop which she managed for 10 years, was clerk of the parish meeting, researched local history – and married.
It was a very happy marriage which lasted until her husband’s death 20 years later.
After a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease she died at Anley Nursing Home, Settle.
She will be greatly missed by her family, friends and all the people whose lives were touched by her intelligence and understanding.