Tributes have been paid to a beloved teacher and volunteer who has died after decades of serving the people of Andover.

Marion Spaul passed away on January 11 at Andover Nursing Home, following decades of work as a teacher at Winton School and as a volunteer at the Countess of Brecknock Hospice.

Her family said they would remember her “infectious good humour, quick wit and effervescent personality”. She is survived by her children Linda, Andrew, Jonathan and David, as well as her grandchildren Thomas and Charlie.

She was born as Marion Ursula Nelder in Reading on March 6 1922, as the eldest daughter of Harold and Marion. Marion’s mother died at the age of four, which her family said “cast a shadow over her life”. Following her mother’s death, the family moved to Edinburgh to live with their mother’s sister, May MacNeill.

Her destiny to become a teacher was perhaps feted because of her education, attending Gillespie’s High School for Girls, which is said to be the inspiration for the novel and subsequent adaptations of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. She subsequently attended Edinburgh University, where she obtained a Masters degree in French.

Her youth also saw the outbreak of the Second World War, with Marion joining the Women’s Land Army to support the war effort. She adapted to a variety of roles during the war, including as a mechanic for military vehicles, and also saw the birth of her first child, Linda, in 1943.

Following graduation, she spent some time as a nurse, but with the birth of her son Andrew in 1948, she qualified instead as a teacher, allowing her to balance the demands of work and motherhood. Her family also saw further expansion when her father remarried, seeing her gain four new siblings: Guy, Janet, Jim and Hilary.

She began teaching in Southgate and made many friends during her time there. She also met her future husband, John Spaul, after being introduced via his sister, Ruth Vines. They married in July of 1960.

Together, they travelled widely, including a stint in Halifax to live with his parents before John got a job as a history teacher in Nyasaland, now known as Malawi, at the University of Blantyre. They had two children, Jonathan and David, and spent three years in Africa before returning to the UK. After docking at Southampton they made it as far as Andover, and that is where they decided to set up home.

Initially, they rented a cottage in St Mary Bourne, before moving next door to The Plough Inn in Longparish. Following another period of moving around, they settled for good in the village in 1972, and Marion began her long association with Winton School.

Marion taught at the school for the next decade, and also got involved in the heart of village life. She joined the WI and Wives’ Group, and family remember that on returning from her day’s work, she would announce that she was “going to the shop to get something for tea”, and then return over an hour later having popped in to see many of her friends for a chat and a cup of tea on the way.

At the age of 60, Marion stopped teaching fulltime at the school, but stayed on as a supply teacher and marker. The family also moved into Andover at this time, living in a house on Charlton Road.

She also volunteered at the Countess of Brecknock Hospice for decades

She also volunteered at the Countess of Brecknock Hospice for decades

For the next three decades, she would also be a mainstay of the Countess of Brecknock Hospice, while her husband John became a keen local historian. She continued working there until the age of 90, and would likely have continued to volunteer if she was able.

John moved into Andover Nursing Home, and she became a “firm favourite” with staff. Sadly, he passed away in 2017, and Marion herself decided to move into the same home in 2019. Her family said that she spent the last two years of her life “doing what she did best and enjoyed most, indulging her love of language by engaging in conversation with both wit and charm.”

She passed away last month, and leaves behind four children and two grandchildren. Her family have asked anyone who would like to remember her to consider making a donation in her name to the Countess of Brecknock Hospice, which they can do so by clicking here.