Daughter touched by outpouring of respect for long-serving Letchworth head who lived in Hitchin

Janise Frith

Janise Frith - Credit: Archant

The daughter of a Hitchin woman who taught hundreds of children in Herts has said she has been overwhelmed by the response to her mother’s death.

Janise Frith, who was a long-serving headteacher of St Francis’ College in Letchworth, died two weeks ago – seven days after her 82nd birthday.

Mrs Frith lived in Hitchin from the mid-1960s until 2001, first at Benslow Lane and then The Avenue, before moving to Gosmore – where she remained until heading to Dorset last year to be closer to her daughter.

She arrived in the county having studied the piano at the Royal Academy of Music and taught at schools in Yorkshire and London, and one of her first roles was as head of the music department at The Barclay School in Stevenage.

Mrs Frith then joined the staff of St Francis’ in 1972 as director of music.

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In 1983, she spent four months as acting headteacher before being appointed deputy head in 1984. Three years later she became head, a position she held until her retirement in 1993.

Her daughter Olivia Daly, who attended St Francis’, said: “I’ve been so touched by the outpouring of affection and respect for my mother.

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“Many people have mentioned the school musical productions she put on which I remember as lavish affairs – and her determination to paint the school pink!

“Outside school, my mother was involved with the Hitchin Thespians, first as a pianist, and later for rehearsals, also accompanying the group’s Footlights Choir. After her retirement she learned to play the organ, and played regularly for services at several churches in Letchworth.”

Mairin Hegarty, who succeeded Mrs Frith as head, added: “My memory of Janise is of a consummate professional, both as a musician and as a headmistress,

“Her flair and attention to detail were evident in all she did – beautifully balanced by a wicked sense of humour that made her a joy to work with.”

Her funeral takes place at the Church of St Thomas of Canterbury in Bedford Road, Letchworth, from 2.30pm next Thursday, June 4.

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