|7 Jan 2021|
Maureen lived a varied and much travelled life inheriting her mother’s statistical and mathematical head for figures and her father’s strong Christian faith. Africa and Lee Abbey were the constants in her life, and it is fitting that her ashes should be scattered at Lee Abbey – clearly a place close to her heart.
Maureen was born in 1940 in London to Reverend Stanley and Betty Plunkett. Stanley was minister of Herne Hill Baptist Church, south-east London and 1940 was an interesting time to be in London and the young family were bombed out on more than one occasion. Stuart arrived in 1942 and in 1946 Maureen, Stuart and Betty travelled by plane to the USA to join Stanley who was on a preaching tour.
Back in London in 1947 Maureen attended James Allen’s Girls School (JAGS) in Dulwich along with three of her cousins. It was a happy time for Maureen, but it was disrupted in 1953, when aged 13, the family emigrated to Canada. Returning to London in 1957 Maureen continued her education and in 1963 completed her Teacher’s Certificate at the historic Whiteland’s Teacher Training College and began her teaching career at Bexhill Grammar School in East Sussex.
It was in the 1960s that Maureen’s association with Lee Abbey began. The family used to visit for holidays earlier and in the 1960s Maureen joined the Community. Between 1970 to 1975 Maureen taught at Gayaza High School in Uganda where she made friends for life and it was clear that this was one of the happiest times in Maureen’s life. She returned to Africa, to Lesotho in 1984 as the Headmistress of St Catherine’s High School. A military coup in 1986 brought this to an abrupt and premature end and on returning to the UK, Maureen taught at a number of schools – including her Alma Mater, JAGS and West Buckland School where she taught A Level Maths. She had a very forward-looking approach to teaching statistics (“statistics students need a computer”!). Maureen also introduced many pupils to Computer Programming and gave valuable careers counselling. Chris Ponder (1973-2012S) remembers Maureen’s supportive involvement in the Christian Fellowship at West Buckland and that Maureen’s book of contacts was far-reaching and even included Archbishops!
On retiring from teaching, Maureen chose to continue to live in her house in Lynton where she was to be found either surrounded by piles of exam papers she was marking or at Arlington Court as a volunteer guide. Latterly Maureen moved to a bungalow at Kenwith Castle and ultimately into the Residential Care Home at Kenwith.
Life dealt Maureen a number of challenges – a childhood disrupted by frequent moves at awkward times and health and eyesight problems – but despite all this Maureen was an outgoing, warm hearted and lively character with a big laugh. Maureen was extremely hospitable and was always on hand for a chat and some invariably sound advice.
(largely taken from Maureen’s eulogy co-written by Maureen’s cousin Judith and nephew Oliver)