Tributes to Ilfracombe's 30-year school governor

More recent image of Iris Watson and one of her as a child

Iris Watson served as governor at Ilfracombe Infants for more than 30 years and will be sadly missed - Credit: Watson family

Tributes have been paid to a special woman who helped to guide Ilfracombe Infants School for more than three decades. 

Iris Watson passed away on January 3 aged 90 following a brief illness and there will be a requiem mass at St Peter's Church, Ilfracombe at 1pm on Thursday, January 21 followed by a service at North Devon Crematorium at 3pm, which can be viewed online. 

Mrs Watson will be remembered by many in the town for her voluntary work as a school governor and chairman of governors for more than 30 years. 

Iris Watson and her late husband Lawrence

Iris Watson and her late husband Lawrence - Credit: Watson family

Among those paying tribute was former headteacher Christine Thompson who said Mrs Watson had worked with four different heads at the school during her tenure – much like the Queen working with different Prime Ministers but keeping an eye on the overall proceedings. 

She said: “I was so grateful when I took over headship at Ilfracombe Infants in 2000 to have Iris Watson as chair of governors at the school, Iris had served the school as a governor and chair of governors prior to my appointment so knew the school well. 

“I always valued Iris's unflappable calm advice and words of wisdom. She was a very special person, who loved the community of Ilfracombe but worked tirelessly for its young children.  

“She led the school council for many years, the children loved visiting Iris's chickens - this being a real privilege for them. I cannot emphasise enough how seriously she undertook her role, she gave over and above to our community.” 

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Mrs Thompson said it had been a sad time for the education community, following the recent death of the school’s former headteacher and her dear friend Theresa Hodge. 

The trio led the school to two ratings of ‘outstanding’ education watchdog Ofsted. 

Mrs Watson was born in London but grew up in Plymouth after being evacuated there during the war. 

She met her late husband Lawrence there and ran her own nursery school for many years until they moved to Ilfracombe in 1974 where she ran a guest house. 

She missed her involvement with children and began hosting students from Channel School and Country Cousins but was also drawn to Ilfracombe Infant School and soon became a governor. 

Her daughter Penny said: “She was a lady who gave 100 per cent to whatever she did and that included being a mother to me and Paul, a grandmother to Rachel, Anna and Ben, a grandmother-in-law to John, Phil and Leanne and a great-grandmother to Josh, Sam, Izzy, Alfie, Oscar, Ted, Jake, Evie, Henry and Poppy.  

“Every single one of us received her unconditional love and support and she was loved in return more than words can say.” 

Her funeral service will be streamed via https://www.obitus.com/index.php?page=view-a-webcast and username Beli2202and password 791494. 

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