11 June 2020
This four-generation legacy dates back to 1920 when matriarch Evelyn ‘Dorothy’ Ward (née Claridge) began her formal education at Girton House, aged 7. ‘Lillie Smith was my mother’s neighbour, so from my mother’s early age Lillie insisted (and my mother’s parents agreed) that Girton would be the right place for her education’, says daughter Philippa Hook (1958).
Girton Girls’ School – more than just the ‘right’ place
Sure enough Dorothy thrived at Girton. Her passion for music and education was nurtured at the School, and in 1930 she was appointed Head Girl and awarded the coveted Loveday Bonython prize for ‘service to others without the expectation of reward’. This sentiment remained with her throughout her life. Headmistress Dorothy Angove’s empathy and leadership inspired the young Dorothy to become a teacher. After matriculating at Girton she went on to become one of the first women in South Australia to gain a Science degree from the University of Adelaide. She then taught Science at Girton for almost 20 years, but with one condition—that each Wednesday she would have the morning off to play a game of golf!
Dorothy and her husband Leonard Ward had four children (three girls and one boy), and naturally Karel, Philippa and Susan also became Girton girls. Philippa enjoyed the creative craft lessons, the mental arithmetic taught by Miss Dorothy Yates and of course the music lessons. In her words she was grateful for the encouraging, but strict, education that Girton offered.
A childhood dream realised
From the age of 8 Philippa dreamt of becoming a teacher like her mother. After teaching at a few South Australian schools, and a stint in Canada, it was only fitting that in 1979 Philippa returned to the School where her career ambitions had been formed. ‘In Grade 3 my teacher was Mrs Beth Black, who was to be a major nurturing influence on my career. Her dedication to her profession, interest in children and respect for traditions also inspired me.’ Later Philippa worked with Beth Black in the Junior School. Although she retired from teaching in 2005 Philippa is still an active member of the Old Scholars Association and a Pembroke Life Member.
A new generation
When the time came for Philippa to decide which school her children would attend Pembroke was the obvious choice. David (1985) and Colleen (1986) Cross were able to experience, firsthand, the School life that their family before them had enjoyed so much. Although a very different time to when their mother and grandma attended School, David and Colleen enjoy reminiscing about their time at Pembroke: ‘I remember really liking hanging out in Mum’s classroom and seeing her in her element. One time she was mobbed in the yard by a bunch of little kids telling her how much they loved her! I’m grateful for my education, the friends made along the way, and the encouragement and support of some fantastic teachers’, recalls Colleen. David appreciates the continuity of the connections with Pembroke. ‘It has been terrific to see that Mum’s and Grandma’s association with Pembroke has been so fulfilling and rewarding for them. Even in recent times my Year 10 Mathematics teacher is now my son’s running coach, and my Year 8 home group teacher was my son’s Head of House when he started in Middle School.’
100 years on …
The fourth generation of the Claridge–Ward family begins with David’s three children, Joe, Beth and Anna. Joe, currently in Year 12 at Pembroke, hopes to study physiotherapy or podiatry, as well as aiming to participate in the Australian World Cross Country Selection Trials and the Australian Junior Track and Field Championships next year. ‘Given how positive my whole schooling experience has been at Pembroke it’s awesome to think that so many other members of my family would have enjoyed similar experiences over the past 100 years. I think it has been a consistent lesson (at Pembroke) to pursue the things you are passionate about, try your best at them and surround yourself with people that support you and make you happy.’
Manager, Old Scholar Engagement