Obituary: Distinguished Highgate teacher and magistrate Enid Evans dies after a long illness

A teacher who had a distinguished career in public life and was a passionate campaigner touched by injustice has died after a long illness.

Teacher, magistrate and mother Enid Evans lived in Highgate for 46 years and died at the Royal Free Hospital last Thursday aged 83.

Family tributes remember a woman with an “uncommon level of common sense” who was emotionally touched by injustice and persistent in the few campaigns she undertook in her life.

During a long teaching career and active public life, it is said that Enid was rational always, ready to listen to objections and never known to lose her temper. She had not an ounce of pretension.

Born in Liverpool in 1929, Enid won a scholarship to Durham University where she gained a first class degree in practical teaching after graduating B.Sc in biology in 1951. By vote of the student body, she was elected senior woman of her college, St Aidan’s.

Enid’s first teaching position was at Wennington School, an independent, progressive co-educational boarding school, at Wetherby in Yorkshire.

In 1953 she married fellow graduate Harold Evans, the British journalist who would go on to edit The Sunday Times from 1967 to 1981, and who had just won a Harkness Fellowship for travel and study in the United States.

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Strict rules did not then allow wives to join husbands for six months abroad, but it was typical of Enid to compensate by taking a tough teaching assignment at a school in the Wirral notorious for its rowdiness. She won applause for her work from the schools’ inspectorate.

She later joined her husband on extensive travels through 40 states from November 1956 and was asked wherever she went about the strengths and weaknesses of comprehensive schools. The main focus of the curiosity was the perceived iniquity of “socialised medicine”. She was a cool, but discriminate, defender.

In the Deep South Enid witnessed the birth of Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement and the violence against blacks. Her extensive notes on the struggle of minorities, including native Americans on reservations, were incorporated in reports that her husband filed for the then Manchester Guardian and Manchester Evening News.

On their return to Britain, the Evanses moved to Darlington. There Enid formed an alliance with a local solicitor and others in helping to make a Citizens Advice Bureau an effective force against a good deal of bureaucratic opposition.

In 1967, on the appointment of her husband as editor of The Sunday Times, Enid resumed her successful teaching career at Parliament Hill Girls School and then Islington Sixth Form College, sharing the role of head of biology. She enrolled her three children at Brookfield Primary School in Camden and later King Alfred School in Golders Green.

Enid developed passions for the Heath and Kenwood and for Highgate Library. Her experiences as a mother and teacher made her acutely aware of the difficulties faced by dyslexic children and she helped to found the North London Dyslexia Association for better treatment and understanding of the condition.

After her retirement, Enid was an energetic campaigner for the Camden Libraries Association and treasurer of the committee of Highgate Library in Chester Road. Here she oversaw the construction of a charming garden, landscaped by the late Oliver Cox of Grove Terrace, which stands as a memorial to her love of gardening and commitment to the community.

When she was appointed a lay magistrate in 1994, she valued it for the insights the position gave her into the difficulties other people faced.

Enid retained a close friendship with her husband for the 30 years following their divorce.

She is survived by two daughters, Ruth and Kate, and a son, Michael.

Enid’s will requested that “no flowers or fuss” be made at her funeral, but that anyone minded should recognise her passing with a contribution to the Prisoners’ Education Trust.

The funeral will be held today at Golders Green Crematorium in East Chapel, Hoop Lane.

After the service, the family will give a light buffet lunch at The Star Pub (upstairs), 47 Chester Road, London, Highgate.