FORMER Stourfield Junior School music teacher Mary Stringer has died at the age of 93.

Mary, better known as 'Noonie' to her family, was born in Batley in Yorkshire to George Needham, a teacher, and his wife Eleanor, a nurse. She also has a brother Brian and sister Kathleen.

The family moved to the village of Wilmcote, near Stratford upon Avon, and she attended King High School in Warwick until 1940 when she went to the Teacher Training College in Bingley for four years and once qualified took up a teaching post in Wales.

At the age of 24, in 1947, Mary married William Stringer, a civil engineer from London.

In 1947/48 Bill was offered a job with British Crown Agents in East Africa, drilling water holes throughout Tanganyika.

"As a young bride Mary travelled by boat with her husband to start a new life in East Africa, in what must have seemed, in those days, a rather daunting and frightening experience," said her daughter Julia.

For the first five years of married life Mary lived in a caravan, following her husband, his team and all the drilling rigging around the jungles and villages of Tanganyika, now known as Tanzania. Sleeping with a pistol under her pillow.

Her daughters were born in Africa, Julia at Tabora in 1949, and Carol in 1953 at Arusha.

In 1954 they settled in Kongwa and Mary taught at the European Boarding and Day School.

During a holiday to the UK in 1958 Bill decided it was no longer safe for his wife and children to return to Tanganyika as the 'Mau Mau Rising' had started and Europeans were mainly the targets for the atrocities.

Bill spent his holiday leave driving all over England looking for a home for Mary and the girls, eventually settling on Solent Road at Hengistbury Head.

He returned to Tanganyika to finish the remaining four years of his contract.

Mary and the girls established themselves in English schools.

"Mary took up a teaching post at Stourfield Junior School in 1959/60, and as always, soon became a much loved and respected member of the teaching staff. Eventually becoming the deputy head," said Julia.

Mary retired in 1988 but being Mary, she was not content to just sit back and enjoy life. Besides looking after her grandchildren, she volunteered at the WRVS at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and Bournemouth Law Courts, as well as working at two charity shops.

Mary had many talents and hobbies. She was an accomplished pianist and played for the annual Schools' Concerts at the Winter Gardens in Bournemouth.

Mary loved gardening, decorating, sewing, knitting, tapestry and made a mean chocolate cake and steak and kidney pie. She joined a rambling club and visited National Trust and Heritage sites.

"She will be remembered for her wit, cheeky sense of humour and fun, compassion, loyalty and friendship."

Mary died on March 17 and her funeral was held at St Katharine's Church, Southbourne, on April 4.