A FORMER teacher at Wantage County Primary who “never lost her love and enthusiasm for children” has died, aged 85.

Mary Elizabeth Talbot, from Didcot, taught at Wantage County Primary, later Garston Lane, for 28 years.

She was born Mary Walker in Childrey on February 14, 1928, and lived in what is now Oxfordshire her whole life.

After her retirement she continued to help out at her grandchildren’s primary school in East Hagbourne.

Her daughter Marion Ralson, 56, said: “She was never one to sit still and when her grandchildren went to school she helped with classes and arranged lessons cake baking for the children.

“She had five grandchildren and one of her greatest pleasures was having them to stay over.

“She never lost love and enthusiasm for children and they all have fond memories of the days spent learning to cook, sew and tend the garden with ‘gran’.”

Mary started her schooling in Stadhampton and South Moreton then went to Wallingford Grammar School.

At 17 she gained a place at Ripon Training College, Yorkshire, where she trained as a teacher.

She graduated in 1947, aged 19, and in the same year married Jack Talbot, a railway fireman from Didcot.

Their first son, Stephen was born in 1948, followed by Alan in 1949.

The first family home was a converted double decker bus parked on a site behind Manor Farm, Foxhall Road, Didcot.

In the early 1950s with a loan from her parents, they purchased a small wooden bungalow in Park Road, Didcot.

Mrs Talbot took her first teaching role at Denchworth Primary School in 1950.

Her journey to school each day consisted of a 15 minute walk to Didcot Station, a 30 minute train to Challow Station, then a three-mile cycle ride to the school.

In 1952, a vacancy came up for a teaching role at Wantage County Primary. Mrs Talbot applied with a first class reference from the head teacher of Denchworth School, Ethel Jeffries, who wrote: “Mary has been an exemplary teacher of the highest integrity”.

At Garston Lane she was put in charge of tutoring children who fell behind in their studies.

Mrs Ralson said: “She was rightly proud of an ability to teach remedial classes to bring children with learning difficulties to a standard where they could join mainstream classes.”

She took charge of the school netball team taking pupils to matches across Oxfordshire.

During the 1960s she also arranged trips for the children to BBC Television Centre, London, to see the filming of the Five O’clock Club and Crackerjack.

She gave birth to a third son Robert in 1954 followed by Marion in 1956, and at age 52 she took early retirement, having spent 28 years as a teacher.

Well into her 70s, Mrs Talbot could be seen regularly riding her bicycle to and from the shops and the allotment in Didcot, usually carrying heavily laden baskets on each handle bar.

Mr Talbot died on October 10, 2008.

Mrs Talbot died on May 17 this year.

A funeral was held on Monday at All Saints Church in Didcot.

She is survived by their four children Stephen, Alan, Marion and Robert, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.