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Eva Wickham obituary | Teaching


My wife, Eva Wickham, who has died aged 76, worked for the Inner London Education Authority in Lambeth as an educational psychologist for two decades from 1971. When Ilea was abolished in 1990, she moved to Wandsworth’s educational psychology service, where she remained until her retirement in 2006.

She had a deep aversion to doing nothing and in retirement she soon found herself chairing the governing body of a local primary school. Throughout her adult life Eva was involved in various charity projects, usually involving children. She was a trustee for Cave, a literacy project in Clapham, worked as a volunteer breast feeding counsellor for the National Childbirth Trust and, most recently, was a trustee for Lambeth Home Start.

Eva was born in Jerusalem in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. Her parents, Jan Pollert, a chest physician, and Marie Bergman, a language teacher, had escaped from Prague in 1939, just before the Nazi invasion. After the war the family moved back to Czechoslovakia but found the increasingly totalitarian approach of the communist regime difficult to accept and in 1949 they moved to the UK as refugees. Almost immediately upon their arrival in London, Eva’s father was quarantined because of a recurrence of TB.

Marie, faced with the prospect of caring for the family in a strange new country, solved the problem of finding a school for Eva by asking a passing policeman for help. At the age of six, speaking almost no English, Eva found herself at Bousfield junior school in Kensington, which seemed to work well for her. Success in the 11-plus took her to Godolphin and Latymer school, Hammersmith, and thence to Bristol University, where she studied psychology.

After spells of teaching in various London schools, including the newly opened Holland Park comprehensive, where Eva and I met as fellow teachers, she took a two year master’s course in educational psychology at Sussex University (1969-71). Once qualified, she moved back to London to live and work and we were married in 1973.

She was an enthusiastic amateur artist and in retirement enjoyed her classes at the Putney School of Art. Her garden was her pride and joy and she enjoyed travelling and entertaining a wide circle of friends. She had been fit and healthy for the whole of her life, and it came as a great shock to her family and friends when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July last year.

She is survived by me and our daughters, Miriam and Rebecca, and granddaughters, Leia and Rosa, and by her sister, Anna.

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