George Ridding’s wife Elsie (Headmaster 1968-1978) has died peacefully at the College of St. Barnabas, a residential community of retired Anglican clergy in Surrey. Mrs Ridding started and managed the Tuck Shop at West Buckland. With the profits, the money was used to make the curtains in the Memorial Hall. She would also take the Prep School boarders down to East Buckland to clean the church on Saturday mornings. When they left West Buckland, the Riddings moved to Kuala Lumpur. On their return to the UK, they moved to South Devon and eventually retired to Shaftesbury where their son was a parish priest. They then moved to the College of St. Barnabas where they lived together in a small flat and where George Ridding still resides.
When the Governors approved the building of a new girls’ boarding house, I knew exactly who I wished to appoint as the first “housemother”. But would she accept? Would she and Richard be willing to move from their lovely home in Goodleigh to live on site? Happily for the school, and especially for all the girls who formed the Bamfylde community, their answer was “yes”, and they moved in during the 1990 summer holidays.
For five years Faith gave her time, her patience and her love in the most generous measure to care for the girls, over 40 of them when the house was at its fullest, aged from 7 to 18, some of them thousands of miles away from home. Bamfylde is where they went “home” after a busy day in school, to a welcoming smile, friendly dogs, and a chance to relax or to chat about a problem. Faith’s name was the key to her success: from her faith in God came a faith in the girls, that, given firmness, fairness and love, they would flourish securely. Years spent working in hospitals as a specialist children’s nurse gave her a quality of calm confidence when a crisis arose or a girl needed individual comfort. The girls came to know that she was always there for them
Sadly Faith’s final years of retirement were dogged by serious illness, so that, after many exciting travels and holidays, hospitals became the all too familiar destination for her and Richard. They shared 53 years of happy marriage. Richard, who cared for her with selfless devotion in her illness, is grateful for the messages and letters he has received.
Faith died in December 2012 at the age of 81.