Pioneering female probation worker Rose Mary Braithwaite dies

Rose Mary Braithwaite, who has died aged 98, devoted much of her life to the care of delinquent children.

She became one of the first batch of probation officers appointed when the Home Office took over the service in 1939, a post she was moved to take up as she later put it, “because I wanted to work with children, particularly naughty children”.

With the dark clouds of war gathering over Europe, Ms Braithwaite was evacuated from London along with two million children.

The Highgate pensioner told the Ham&High in an interview in 2007: “The authorities sensibly knew the children, being uprooted from their homes, would get into trouble so they seconded me and other officers to country areas.

“Probation was different during the war, nowadays you expect people to come out and visit you but you couldn’t have a child come and visit you in case there was an air raid.

“So I had to go to them when they were all down in the bomb shelters. They also took down all the road signs to bamboozle the Germans in case they invaded but it just bamboozled me. It was a very disruptive time.”

Her work was pioneering at a time when few women were able to break into the professions.

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Ms Braithwaite grew up in South End Road, in Hampstead and moved to Highgate in 1956, first living in Southwood Lane and later Cholmeley Lodge, where her boundless energy and dedication to helping the disadvantaged won her many friends.

Throwing herself into charity work, she became a founder member of the Highgate -based Harrington Scheme, which provides young adults with learning difficulties with horticultural and gardening training.

Naomi Moskovic, a neighbour in Cholmeley Lodge, in Cholmeley Park, said: “She was a really part of Highgate community. Everybody knew her.

“I remember, last year I arrived to pick her up from the Fair in the Square and explained to someone working there that I was putting up a blue badge because I was picking up an elderly person.

“As soon as I mentioned it was Rose Mary Braithwaite they immediately rushed off to find her. That was the effect she had on people. She made an extraordinary contribution to community life.”

Rose Mary Braithwaite was born on May 8, 1914. She suffered a stroke last October and spent her last months in a nursing home in Suffolk tended constantly by her loving nephews Alan and Richard. She died on May 12.