Retired Penrith schoolteacher and much loved friend of many

Date: Tuesday 18th April 2017
The late Miss Dorothy Chalk with the book she published in 2007.
The late Miss Dorothy Chalk with the book she published in 2007.

A RETIRED teacher who was a much loved friend to many has died, aged 84.

Dorothy Chalk was the daughter of the late Selina Chalk, being born at Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire, where she spent a happy childhood.

Her first job was teaching at Hull for a year before she taught at a secondary school in the East End of London.

A biscuit factory in Bermondsey was where Dorothy next worked, while also taking evening statistics lessons, eventually gaining the certificate of the Royal Statistical Society. She also worked as a telephonist and for the BBC in overseas broadcasting.

Dorothy felt that 10 years in London was too long, so she subscribed to the Herald to see what was going on in Cumbria, where she had spent many happy holidays as a child.

Dorothy spotted an advertisement in the paper for the Old Schoolhouse, at Mungrisdale, and ended up buying the house in the 1960s.

When moving to the area, she worked as a teacher at both Tynefield School and Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Penrith, while her mother ran the village post office with the help of Dorothy.

Following the death of her mother, Dorothy continued to run the post office for a while, retiring in 2004 — the mother and daughter duo having run the business for nearly 20 years.

Dorothy moved to Caldbeck in 2001, having lived at Mungrisdale for 40 years.

She nursed her mother with great devotion in her last years, which was a testament to Dorothy’s caring nature.

She was known for her unique and eccentric character, and neighbours and friends recalled a number of humorous stories involving Dorothy. In one instance, she decided that if she bought a scooter she would be able to “scoot” along to the A66, catch the bus and return home without having to bother anyone for a lift. She purchased the necessary equipment — gauntlets, a helmet, goggles and boots.

However, instead of the motorised variety of scooter, she bought an adult’s version of the child’s toy. After taking a few falls, she decided it was not for her.

However, this did not deter her and she soon bought a motorised version of the scooter. Friends remember that she used it her on errands as recently as last year.

Dorothy was a devoted churchgoer and would regularly attend Caldbeck’s St. Kentigern’s Church. In 1970, she was the first woman to be licensed as a reader in Carlisle diocese. There was a special service marking the 40th anniversary of the event in 2010, held in Carlisle Cathedral with the Bishop of Carlisle officiating. She also served as a lay minister.

A keen writer, Dorothy enjoyed putting pen to paper and writing stories, as well as poems. She attended two short courses in the county, which set her on the road to becoming a published writer, eventually publishing a volume of poetry entitled Listen, in 2007.

Her work was inspired by her own life, interests and experiences, with the topic of one poem praising her beloved Reliant Robin car. She was also a member of Mungrisdale Writers’ Group and the village’s WI.

Another of Dorothy’s hobbies was her garden. In author Vivian Russell’s book, Dream Gardens, she writes about Dorothy’s garden, which “seemed like a corner of the secret garden had been untouched”.