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Former deputy head of Newlands Girls' School dies aged 85

A former deputy head of Newlands Girls’ School who students might remember as being ‘great fun’ has died aged 85.

Josephine Crack, better known as ‘Jo’ was born in 1935 into a hard-working and highly respected family of grocers in the village of Lound, near Lowestoft.

She had an older sister, Rosalie, who was disabled, and her life was centred at home and the small village school where she thrived.

Following her early education Jo went on to the grammar school in Lowestoft and it was a visit from the school’s headmaster which persuaded her parents that Jo had the potential to go to university.

Jo headed to University College London where she studied German and earned her degree and certificate in education.

She went on to spend a year in Germany and when she returned to England her first teaching post was in Rochester, Kent.

Then, in 1965, Jo moved to Maidenhead and started work at Maidenhead High School, now known as Newlands Girls’ School, as a German teacher.

Jo stayed at the school for 27 years, seeing its gradual conversion to comprehensive schooling and its change of name to Newlands School in 1973.

During this time she became deputy head, a post she later shared with joint deputy head Janet Longstaff.

Janet said: “She was lovely to work with, really supportive, sympathetic, she was great.”

According to Janet, Jo was also an excellent teacher, producing ‘very successful’ exam results, as well as being principled.

“She always claimed to be firm and fair, but she was always great fun and very sociable,” said Janet.

“She taught my sister an awfully long time ago, but when I told my sister she’d died, she said ‘Jo’s lessons were such fun’, she said ‘we would all end up giggling and Jo would be giggling too’.

Jo and Janet became good friends, and Celia Phillips, a fellow teacher, was another very good friend Jo met at school, the pair going on to share a flat and then a house together.

Throughout her life Jo cherished friendships, and kept in touch with school friends, family friends, foreign friends, village friends and colleagues.

She also loved music and literature, and enjoyed sport, from playing hockey at school, to badminton in her thirties and short tennis following her retirement in 1990.

As a spectator, eventing and horse riding came first for Jo, followed by football, golf and snooker. Although she liked to travel and explore different countries, in her retirement Jo was happy with spontaneous days out and short breaks in England.

Jo had Parkinson’s and moved to Boulters Lock Residential Care Home in Sheephouse Road in 2015.

She died at the home on Sunday, October 11.

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