Gillian Teacher’s beautiful legacy to NLH
Have you ever looked in awe at our Book of Remembrance at North Finchley and pledged to improve your own handwriting? The beautifully crafted pages containing the names of our patients who have passed away is nothing short of a work of art. Each name crafted carefully with black ink in swooping curls and flicks with pinpoint accuracy. Each name containing a lifetime of memories for a family.
For more than 15 years our Book of Remembrance was updated by one of our volunteers, Gillian Teacher. She learned her writing skills from her father who’s hobby was calligraphy, and clearly had a creative flair.
As well as volunteering in different areas of the hospice over two decades – from our reception at North Finchley and driving our vans to bucket collections on the street – Gillian made greeting cards that were sold in our Hospice shops and netted an incredible £30,000 across the years.
“She loved making the cards,” said Stuart, her husband of 52 years who is also a volunteer at NLH. “No one was ever allowed to throw away a Christmas or birthday card. Friends would deliver bag loads of cards and Gillian would cut out the pictures to create the most wonderful new card designs.”
Gillian’s early working life was rather more structured as a clerical worker and a dental nurse. She also worked in the dress department in Harrods, where she was often asked to model wedding gowns. She played bridge, Sudoku and enjoyed crosswords, and her membership of MENSA with an IQ of 155 meant that she was a sought after member for the local quiz teams!
Gillian and her brother were largely brought up by their mother whilst their father was away fighting in WWII and then the Korean War. She developed an independent yet caring nature, which in later life, would be invaluable in her volunteering at North London Hospice.
“She was always available to help. Even as a child she would run errands or collect shopping for the elderly in her block of flats,” added Stuart. “She was in the top 1% in the country with her IQ of 155. She was competent at everything she turned her hand to, even managing to single handedly assemble an IKEA desk… which is no mean feat!”
Travel was a huge part of Gillian and Stuart’s life together. They went on over 50 cruises visiting all four corners of the globe.
When Gillian became ill in 2015 she was no longer able to update the Book of Remembrance and a search began to find someone to take over her calligraphy work. Gillian died at NLH in October last year and when Gwyneth Hibbett began to update the book and came to Gillian’s name, she added two 24-carat gold dots over the i’s as a mark of remembrance for this truly gifted lady.
“It was so thoughtful and a really fitting tribute that I know she would be proud of,” added Stuart.