'Inspirational' Maidenhead teacher 'will be greatly missed'

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

adrianw@baylismedia.co.uk

An ‘inspirational’ Maidenhead teacher, educator and charity worker has passed away aged 77.

Johanna Raffan MBE was president of the Soroptimists International federation of Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI) – a worldwide volunteer service.

She was also one the founders of the National Association for Able Children in Education (NACE) and served as a secretary for the European Council for High Ability (ECHA).

A Maidenhead resident since 1965, Johanna was also a headteacher at Holyport Primary School.

“She loved children and she really enjoyed the
company of children and teenagers,” said her sister, Professor Gerda Roper.

“She and her husband had nine godchildren and they doted on all of them. My son, her nephew, was the apple of her eye.”

Johanna was known for her work helping teachers to recognise gifted children and was ‘always very committed’ to the education of women and girls.

She was awarded an MBE in 2013, recognising her work educating about 8,000 teachers around the world.

Johanna joined the Soroptimists in 1987. She was often in Zoom meetings 18 times a day, engaging with other members.

“She was a very lively person who really enjoyed life. She was charming and she was always nice to everybody,” said Gerda.

A former convent school pupil, Johanna developed ‘a very profound faith’ at a young age. After her
husband Sandy died, she took holy orders and became committed to a life of prayer.

She was a former churchwarden of St Luke’s Church and was ‘very committed’ to life in Maidenhead.

“When out in Maidenhead, it was very rare that we didn’t meet somebody that had been taught by her. She loved the Maidenhead community, she loved living here,” said Gerda.

“A key memory is how proud my son and I were when she received her MBE. She was absolutely thrilled to bits.”

The Soroptimists said: “Johanna was so proud of when she became the federation president. Her support for her club was exemplary.

“Johanna will be greatly missed by all who knew her. She was an inspirational woman and leaves her club with many treasured memories.”

Johanna passed away peacefully in the care of Thames Hospice as the result of a stroke.

Her life will be celebrated in a thanksgiving service on Monday at St Luke’s church.

Due to COVID-19, the service will be limited in number and invitation only.

Johanna will be missed and remembered by her sister Gerda and nephew Nicholas, her cousins in Norway, close friends and godchildren.

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