Monday 17th Apr 2023

Miss Dolley / Mrs Radley – Hertford staff twice, in the 60s and 80s.


Sybil Radley’s funeral will be held at 1pm on Wednesday 26 April at St Mary’s Church, 1 Sherwood Ave, St Albans AL4 9QA.

Submitted by her daughter, Miriam McKay (Radley) 7’s 1976-83.

Sybil Radley died on 31 March 2023 after a short illness. Until the last few weeks of her life, she lived independently in St Albans, tending her roses, playing bridge, reading profusely and doing the crossword every day. She was devoted to her six grandchildren and taught them knitting, French and Scrabble, as well as a healthy curiosity and respect for the world around them.

As Miss Dolley, Sybil first taught French at Hertford in the early 1960s. Beryl Jenkins (née Holloway), Miss Jukes and Miss Wilson remained lifelong friends, and she found Miss West an inspiring young headmistress. Sybil took up Scottish dancing when she arrived in Hertford and met Ken Radley, leaving to get married in 1963.

Kathleen Duncan (Dale) remembers her as follows.

“Miss Dolley was the most gentle and encouraging teacher for our GCE and A-Level French – we all loved her.

“Her patience as we struggled through Phèdre by Racine was remarkable. I was grateful to her for ensuring I had a good accent too.

“Many years later my niece Sarah married a Frenchman, Stéphane, and has brought up their three bilingual children in Aix en Provence.

“A remarkably spry Miss Dolley, by then aged 90, came to the 2017 Founders Day Dinner at the Ironmongers Hall. It was wonderful to chat together – she was the same delightful person.”

Chantal Geall (2’s 1977 – 84) commented:

“Mrs Radley – as we knew her – was one of the most patient, caring and empathetic teachers who had the dubious pleasure of teaching pupils French at the Hertford site.  We remember that she wore really cool glasses that made a great impression on us. We appreciated her calm and dedicated approach to teaching a language which I adored but that passion was not shared by all.  Mrs Radley never lost her temper with those who might have set out to disrupt the class – she was a true professional and earned the utmost respect of all those she taught.”

Sybil returned to Hertford in 1982 as Head of French when help was needed before the girls departed for Horsham. Miriam was in the sixth form at the time, studying French, and arrangements were put in place to make sure that Sybil did not teach her. Miriam’s classmates were ably tutored by Mrs Pickard and Miss Eddy, both of whom became firm friends of Sybil, as did other members of staff from her second stint. Miriam’s abiding memory of having her mum on the staff was that Sybil stayed diplomatically aloof from Miriam’s various adventures, but left cake, a punnet of strawberries or a melon in her study before she went home on a Friday. This unshowy thoughtfulness typified Sybil and made her many friends throughout her long life.

Picture: Sybil Radley with Kathleen Duncan, Founders’ Day 2017.

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