My mother, Shiela Hodges, who has died aged 94 of Covid-19, had three great loves: family, amateur dramatics and her school, first as a pupil and later a teacher.
Shiela was born in the flat over her father’s Kidderminster optician’s shop, the second child and only daughter of Leon Jacobs and his wife, Edith (nee Amey). She attended Kidderminster high school for girls from the age of six to 17. She was the first member of her family to go to university, moving to London during the second world war to take a degree in geography at Bedford College. She graduated in 1946.
She met Frank Hodges, then working for the Ordnance Survey, who was a friend of her brother, in Kidderminster and they married in 1952. They had three daughters. Our family lived in Stourport-on-Severn, where Shiela taught drama at Stourport Secondary Modern. We then moved to Kidderminster in 1970, where she remained for the rest of her life.
Shiela taught maths at Kidderminster high school, at first part-time in the early 1960s to fit in with raising her family, and then as a full-time member of staff. When the school merged with two other schools in 1977, she left and became head of maths at St John’s middle school. Many former pupils remember her enthusiasm for the subject and her unusual teaching methods. Shiela was an early advocate of multi-sensory teaching. She insisted, for example, that students had to use both hands to address a maths problem. She also tried to make maths fun and was known for being endlessly patient. She retired in 1985.
Outside teaching, Shiela’s passion was theatre. She joined the Nonentities amateur drama group in 1950 and remained a member for 70 years, being made a life member in 2000. Her range as an actor was wide, from battle-axe mothers to flirty girls, and even the puppet Pinocchio. She was the first amateur to direct the Nonentities, taking on a play a year for some 35 years. Each one was followed by an excellent after-show party. She was also responsible for publicity and production management.
Her last acting performance was in 2005 at the age of 79, playing Grandma Josephine in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, at the Rose Theatre, Kidderminster.
Frank died in 1997. Shiela is survived by their daughters – my sisters, Elizabeth and Caroline, and me – and three granddaughters.