RETIREMENT The Holly Leaf (July 33)

Miss Edith Atkins, B.A.  was a member of staff at the Sheffield Pupil Teacher Centre from 1913 to 1933.

Good wine needs no bush;  some need no testimonial.  But it is customary on occasion to set down what one deeply feels.  The loss of a cherished colleague is grievous;  ordinary blanks may be filled;  this remains.  But use of the past tense is merely a form, for Miss Atkins will, we hope, be out and in for many a day.  "Shaking the dust from my feet;"  "Never setting foot in the place again," are not in her vocabulary.

At Easter, the pupils showed their love for Miss Atkins, the Principal in terms felicitously apt expressed the regard of the Staff;  it remains only for a tongue-tied colleague to set down a few inadequate words.  In a large school, living under conditions exacting some degree of bustle, a gentle and refining presence is more precious than rubies.  Irrational anger, immoderate reproof, such caustic reprimands as School Management Manuals say come all too trippingly did not form part of Miss Atkin's armoury.  Never for her did soft youthful faces try to present the flashing eye, the beetling brow spoken of in some romantic page of Prose for Precis.  The young, generous themselves, with remarkable insight and pitiless logic quickly separate the careerish from one devoted to youth.  Many clearly and all to some degree realised that the drift of all Miss Atkins' teaching is;  "Whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report:  think on these things."

To colleagues, her friendliness was a great privilege, her sympathy in things intellectual a stimulus.  To her one turned for recognition of measured prose or softly candenced poem.  Through the range from the inexpressible beauty of Holy Writ to the lighter charm of Lamb and Lynd, one found immediate and unerring appreciation.

Miss Atkins, on the Staff, was one of the group forming "the Old Guard" - who can say to each other in connection with this School:  "Do you remember?"  We think of long ranks of pupils, some pathetic, some bright and beautiful fallen in the Great War, or sacrificed apart in some more obscure circumstances.  We think of colleagues vanished but still passionately remembered.

Miss Atkins is not one to hang on the wall like a rusty nail.  Rather will she spread herself in those causes she has so much at heart and on whose behalf she has so laboured that she has well earned the title bestowed elsewhere:  "The Friend of the Friendless."


On the occasion of Miss Atkins' retirement at Easter, E.F.G. Were packed with the students presided over by H. A. Twelves (Head Boy), and Edith Fielding (Head Girl).  Before asking Miss Atkins to accept their gifts, Twelves spoke as follows:-

"Miss Atkins, Mr. Meetham, Ladies and Gentlemen.  Occasions such as this are always, I think, times of mixed feelings.  None of us likes to say 'Goodbye' to those we love and care for, and we have to console ourselves with the thought that someday we shall meet again.  So today, I am sure that Miss Atkins is torn between two forces.  On the one hand she is glad to be free from all the care and anxiety which a crowd of awkward girls and boys must have caused her, and she is looking forward to a time of rest after toil.  On the other hand I am sure that, during the many years she has been at Centre, she has come to love not only certain individuals, but Centre itself, and, therefore, today she feels that certain very light and strong bonds are being served.

What we wish to do today is to make Miss Atkins realise that those bonds are not being severed at all.  We want to make her feel that we shall always remember her, and that we hope she will remember us.  Therefore, on behalf to thank Miss Atkins most sincerely for all that she has done for us, and to give her our heartfelt good wishes for her future happiness, and for good health in her retirement.

Any little gifts we offer to Miss Atkins today are merely the outward expression of something deeper, something much more important within our hearts.  If when she looks upon and makes use of these gifts in future years, they call up to her sweet, undying memories, then our aim today will have been accomplished.

And so, Miss Atkins, it is with some regret, and yet with the greatest pleasure that I wish you, on behalf of all the students of Centre, the fullest happiness in your new sphere of life."

Miss Edith Atkins died in 1947 - OBITUARY