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Teacher who served the Royal Borough's schools for 25 years dies aged 89

A spirited woman and passionate teacher with a ‘zest for life’ has died aged 89.

Maureen Kenney, nee McHugh, taught at Holyport Manor School in Ascot Road and was presented with an award for being a school governor in the Royal Borough for 25 years.

She was born in London in 1930 to Alfred Stanley and May McHugh and grew up with her sister, Kay, in Stoke Poges, Gerrards Cross and Chalfont St Giles.

Her father Alfred founded Britannic Cables, which provided cables for warships during the Second World War. The factory was based in Iver.

During the war the family moved to Porlock Weir in Somerset and when they returned, after begging her parents to send her to boarding school, Maureen started at Chalfont Lodge School aged about 14.

It met all her expectations and she only absconded on one occasion to enjoy a cup of cocoa at home.

It was a memory Maureen’s daughter, Melissa Pittock, said she would recall fondly. Melissa said her mother always had ‘a twinkle in her eye’.

While at school Maureen excelled at sport, and went on to study for four years at the Bergman Osterberg Physical Training College and earned her teacher training certificate in physical education.

In 2017 Melissa said Maureen was 'chuffed' to attend an honouree degree ceremony at the University of Greenwich where her teacher training certificate was recognised as a degree. 

During her early teaching career she taught PE at St Swithun's School, a girls’ boarding school in Winchester, and Westwood Girls’ School in Reading, where she became deputy head.

In 1967, Maureen went on a blind date with personnel management lecturer John Kenney and in 1968 they married in Walton-on-Thames.

After they wed they moved into a house in Ray Mead Court and in 1971 they welcomed their son, Piers.

In 1972 they moved to Cannock Close and three years later, in 1975, daughter Melissa was born.

In 1981 the family moved to Braywick Road, where Melissa said Maureen ‘absolutely adored’ living and took great care of the garden.

Piers and Melissa both attended Oldfield Primary School and during this time Maureen became parent governor at the school.

Melissa went on to attend Newlands Girls’ School and Piers Desborough Secondary School, now known as Desborough College, where Maureen became a governor.

She was chair of governors at the school from 2005-2009 and vice chair from 2009-2011.

Her service as governor for 25 years earned her a Royal Borough award.

In the late 1980s Maureen became a teacher at Holyport Manor School, teaching children with special needs.

Melissa said: “She was amazing, she had them all behaving, and learning, she would inspire them and put on the most amazing shows.

“If she did anything, she did it impeccably. She was so dedicated to the children and to education generally.”

It was a role that suited her qualities, Melissa said: “She was just the most compassionate, thoughtful, benevolent person possible.”

In 1987 John was involved in a serious car accident which changed life as they knew it for the family.

After a difficult time, two years later the family were able to enjoy a special holiday.

Maureen got in touch with Charles Carmine Forte, hotelier of what became the Forte Group, who had been friends with Maureen’s father, Alfred.

Melissa said Alfred had helped Mr Forte in business when he was starting out and a firm friendship ensued.

As a mark of gratitude to her father Mr Forte pulled out all the stops for the family who had planned a holiday in North America.

He arranged for a limousine to pick them up from Toronto airport, which was at their beck and call for the rest of the trip.

When the family flew to Orlando for the second leg of their holiday there was also a behind the scenes tour of Disney Land.

Melissa said: “It was a real highlight at a difficult time in her life and ours.”

In the 1980s Maureen also had a role in setting up a Saturday morning Maidenhead Dyslexia Support Group.

Melissa said: “Her life was helping others, she didn’t really do anything for herself, her evenings were meetings and her day time was working really.”

She describes her mother as selfless, and a force to be reckoned who ‘would stand up for any body’.

“She had an amazing brain and she would challenge everything, she would put up a good fight and generally win, she was so eloquent,” she said.

In 1996 Maureen retired, but still dedicated her time to being a governor.

She moved to Cirencester three years ago to live with Melissa, her husband Ian, and their 10 year-old twin sons, Harry and Charlie, who adored their grandmother.

Since moving Maureen has enjoyed spending three months a year with Piers, who lives in the Far East, visiting Japan and Bangkok multiple times.

Melissa said she was full of energy.

"if you were up for it, she was up for it," she said.

“She had a zest for life, she never moaned about anything.”

For Christmas Maureen went to stay with Piers in Tokyo, and from there they went on to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for some sunshine.

It was here that Maureen passed away in her sleep on Thursday, February 13.

Funeral details are yet to be finalised. Email Melissa at melissapittock@fastmail.fm or call 07811 949525 for details.

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