FORMER long-standing teacher at Stourfield Infant School, Bournemouth, Molly Kathleen Spatcher, has died at the age of 82.

Molly was the daughter of Kathleen and William Sibley and grew up in the Southbourne and Hengistbury Head area where her father ran the firm of W J Sibley and Son.

Her working life focus was always in education, although she worked briefly at Beaufort School as a secretary before training as an infant school teacher at Salisbury Teacher Training College. Molly enjoyed singing in a choir and was part of a choral society before she married. She brought her singing voice and the ability to play the piano with her to school.

"When Molly received her first job she had to attend Bournemouth Town Hall for an interview and was told where to take up her first post. This was quite unusual at that time. She found herself teaching children in the West Howe area," said her stepdaughter Carolyn Bellotte.

Children continued to be at the centre of Molly's life both at home at work. She had four children, David, Ian, Richard and Kathryn by her first husband Tom Godwin. Sadly she was widowed at a young age and became mother to six when she married Ken Spatcher who had two children of his own, Barbara and Carolyn.

"Molly always taught and had a long teacher career. When she had a young family she did supplying teaching work," said Carolyn.

For over 20 years Molly taught at Stourfield Infant School and before she retired found herself teaching many children of the children she taught in earlier years.

"Molly had a real love for young children and always taught the Reception classes at Stourfield. She provided a wonderful start for the children in her care and there was always a happy atmosphere in her classroom. She was eager to keep up to date with the latest ideas on teaching the young and was a valued and experienced member of staff," said Mary Hockey (nee Gidlow), head teacher at Stourfield when Molly was there who contacted the family recently.

In her retirement Molly retained her interest in early years education and often made trips with her husband Ken to functions concerning the British Association for Early Childhood Education. She was also involved with the development of Sure Start Children's Centres.

"Molly mentored new teachers, inspiring them and helping them achieve the very best. To this day many ex-pupils and their parents, colleagues, fellow committee members and others in education remember Mrs Spatcher with respect and affection. Her name resonates around the town still," said Carolyn.

Molly passed away at Overcliff House on March 25 and her funeral was held at Bournemouth Crematorium on April 6 with donations going to the British Association for Early Childhood Education.