Keighley community figure one of last ‘pupil-teachers’

First published in News

A woman who became a teacher at the Keighley school she attended as a child has died at the age of 88.

Irene Feather, sister of author John Waddington-Feather, was one of Keighley’s last ‘pupil-teachers’.

Irene, right, who was born in Silsden in 1925, attended Eastwood Council School in Marlborough Street during the 1930s.

She went on to to study at Keighley Grammar School, and in 1941, at the age of 16, after gaining her School Certificate, she returned to Eastwood as a pupil-teacher.

After two years she entered Edgehill Teacher Training College – based at Bingley Training College during the war – returning to Eastwood after qualifying as a teacher.

Irene’s brother, John, said his sister excelled both academically and in sport, playing in the hockey and netball teams as well as singing in the college choir.

He added: “When she returned to Keighley, Irene involved herself in community activities, especially at Holy Trinity Church, where she taught in the Sunday School and produced nativity plays for some years.”

Irene later married a Cumbrian farmer, Jim Batty, and lived and taught in the Lake District for 56 years. The couple did not have children.

John said that, like Irene, he and brothers Harry and George – who graduated from Leeds University – were well known in Keighley.

He added: “We all fulfilled our parents’ ambition to give their family the education they themselves had missed out on, having left school at 12.”

John Waddington-Feather, a retired priest who now lives in Shrewsbury, has written many novels, short stories and poems.

His series of mystery novels set in Keighworth, a fictional version of Keighley, have in recent years become a hit on the Kindle e-reader.

Irene’s funeral will be in the Lake District on Wednesday.

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