Those who have sadly left us December 2023


It is with sorrow that we report the deaths of several alumnae. Thanks to those who informed us of their passing and our condolences to anyone impacted by these losses. 


Professor Elizabeth Jeffreys (nee Brown), 1941-2023 

Attending Blackheath High School between 1952 and 1959, Professor Jeffreys, left the school to study Classics at Girton College, Cambridge, a rarity for women in the early 1960s; and later held the role of Professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek Language and Literature at University of Oxford. During her illustrious career as an eminent Byzantine scholar, Professor Jeffreys held a number of honorary academic titles, including Professorial Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford.

Thank you to former classmate Margaret Davies for informing us of the news; and condolences to Professor Jeffreys’ family and friends. 


Judith Denness Winn (nee Sayer), 1935-2023 

It is with great sadness that I have to let you know that my wife, Judith Denness Sayer, a pupil at Blackheath High School, died unexpectedly but peacefully in bed on 25th July 2023 aged 87. We were married 58 years minus a few days. She always spoke warmly of her time at school.   

Thank you to her husband Richard Winn for informing us of this very sad news. 


Isabelle Cheetham  

Isabelle Cheetham passed away on 12 June 2023. She attended Blackheath High School between 1955 and 1962.  

Isabelle always spoke fondly of her time at Blackheath High School and the friends she made there. She had a great sense of humour and an infectious laugh, something that she told us had been noted at school! Art was her favourite subject and this interest continued throughout her life in visiting art galleries and - in more recent years - attending art classes. From a young age she loved reading, and continued to read widely throughout her life. After leaving school, Isabelle worked at New Eltham Library, which is where she met her future husband John (also Cheetham!). They married in 1966 and went on to have four daughters - Janet, Helen, Rebecca and Rachel - between 1968 and 1983. She was a devoted mother, and grandmother to her ten grandchildren, and passed on her life-long love of art and music to her daughters. She was also a fantastic cook, hosting many large family gatherings with aplomb. Isabelle sang with the London Philharmonic Choir for over 50 years, becoming one of the longest-serving members of the choir, and more latterly also sang with St. Paul’s Cathedral Chorus. Much of her spare time was spent reading, spending time with her family and - when weather permitted - enjoying her much-loved garden.  

Thanks to Isabelle’s daughter Helen Hassan for these beautiful words, and for letting us know of her mother’s passing. 


Robert Winder, 1934-2023 
My family and I just wanted to let you know that Mr Robert Winder, formerly a Music teacher at Blackheath High School, sadly passed away peacefully on Saturday. He was 89 years old. Thank you for all the updates and cards you sent over the years. 

Condolences to Margaret Winder and thank you for letting us know. 


Wendy Grierson, 1943-2023 
Wendy is a much-loved former staff member, who worked in our Nursery for many years and won the hearts and minds of staff and pupils alike. Her daughter Kate Neill has sent us some wonderful reminiscences and memories of her mother – we send the family our heartfelt condolences for their loss. 

Wendy was born Wendy Clucas and was raised by pacifist parents in West London, Bath and Gloucester. Having won a scholarship to Bath High School (which was GPDST at the time), she studied English Literature at Liverpool University at the time when the Beatles were breaking through. She saw them play live and always loved their music. 

Wendy worked at Blackheath High, first as Wendy Neill, later as Wendy Grierson. She loved her work in the Nursery. When it came time to retire, she won the right to stay on longer as she felt she still had so much more to give. 

Wendy died from Alzheimer’s and a stroke at her nursing home in Bristol on 12 August 2023. As a Humanist, she chose not to have a funeral but wanted to make a difference after her death. Her brain was donated to Alzheimer’s research through the Bristol Brain Centre, part of Bristol University. Wendy is survived by daughters Rachel and Kate, both BHS alumnae, and granddaughters Isobel and Amara. 

From Jenny Cornwall (current Teaching Assistant at Juniors): 
Wendy and I were the first members of staff to start at BHS back in 1999. We had a small class of eight children including two boys! Wendy was a fantastic teacher. She adored “little people” as she affectionately called them. She was a wonderful storyteller and was quite theatrical during our sessions. Her smile was infectious, as was her kindness to her colleagues, pupils and their families. She was proud of the Nursery and will always have a special place in so many hearts. 

From Lorriette Maloney (current Teaching Assistant at Juniors and alumna): 
The children loved Wendy. She always held their attention with her charismatic style of teaching. Songs were sung with such enthusiasm and joy and she had a way of really making the learning that the children were doing seem like such immense fun. She had a wonderful warmth and understanding for the children she was teaching. Wendy was a great lover of music and the arts, supporting local young musicians by hosting many musical evenings at her house with her husband Richard, raising money for many charities. 

From Liz Wright (former Nursery teacher at BHS): 
I recall Wendy as being a very warm and loving person. A great person to build confidence and reassurance in young children just taking their first steps towards independence. She had a great sense of fun and a remarkable repertoire of very funny songs. After retiring, she continued tutoring and listening to readers as a volunteer in another school.