Much-loved and respected former Ribble Valley primary school teacher made education her life's work

Warm tributes have been paid to an inspirational and dedicated Ribble Valley primary school teacher who has died aged 78 after a brave battle with Parkinson’s disease.
The late Dorothy HepworthThe late Dorothy Hepworth
The late Dorothy Hepworth

For over 25 years, Dorothy Hepworth (nee Ingham) taught at Read St John’s CE Primary School, where her passion was to fire up the imaginations of her pupils through her own love of science, history, geography, art and creative writing.

Born in 1943 in Great Harwood, she was raised by her parents, Jack and Sally Ingham, who both worked in the cotton mills. Dorothy had happy childhood memories of Sabden, where her grandfather, Joseph Bond, who had served on the Western Front, was gamekeeper for the Huntroyde Estate.

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Dorothy attended St John’s Primary School, and later, was a star pupil at Accrington High School for Girls. On leaving school she pursued her ambition to be a teacher at Ripon College of Education. Her first teaching post was at Pendle County Primary School, in Clitheroe, under Bob Jones, whose high standards and ethos guided her throughout her career. The colleagues she met at Pendle became firm friends for life.

Dorothy met her soulmate, David Hepworth at school, and they both went to Great Harwood youth club, and courted in the hopping dancehalls of East Lancashire during the dawn of rock and roll music. The couple married in 1965 and moved to Warwick Drive in Clitheroe.

Their two sons, Alistair and Nicholas were born at Bramley Mead in Whalley, and in 1976 they moved to West Bradford where she and David lived until retirement, at which point they moved to Grindleton. Both sons went to Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, where Dorothy later served as a Governor.

When not at work, Dorothy shared her love for different cultures, nature and exploring with David, and their travels took them across the world, to Borneo, Patagonia, Peru, the Himalayas, and in particular to Africa, which they returned to many times. As keen trekkers, avid bird-watchers and wildlife spotters, they had some incredible adventures around the continent's mountain ranges and national parks. As much as they enjoyed travelling, they loved the Lakes, the Ribble Valley, and the Yorkshire Dales where they spent many happy weekends walking with their dogs and many friends.

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In addition, the grandmother-of-three contributed to charity fundraising and helping her local community, supporting the Talking Newspaper, Ladies Circle and Tangent, and was a member of the Women’s Institute. She also enjoyed playing badminton and was a keen member of Clitheroe Tennis Club in the 1980s.

Paying tribute, her sons Al and Nick said: "Mum was a much-loved and inspirational teacher whose dedication, creativity and enthusiasm are fondly remembered by her ex-students. Her kindness, verve for life, and cheerful outlook, even throughout the hardships of recent years have been an inspiration to many, and she will be greatly missed by all who had the pleasure to know her."

Dorothy retired in 2003 and focused on her interests in archaeology, local history and genealogy, producing meticulously researched family trees for her extended family and friends. She also threw herself into being a grandma, sharing new adventures with Nell, Theo and Tilly, and provided loving care to David who suffered a period of ill-health before his death in 2018.

A service to celebrate Dorothy’s life will be held at Accrington Crematorium on Friday, November 12th, at 11am, followed by a reception at the Assheton Arms in Downham. Donations in Dorothy’s memory can be made to Parkinson’s UK.