Lives Remembered: Hazel Crutchley

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The Independent Online

My wife Hazel Crutchley was an inspiring and motivating school teacher who had a huge influenceon the children she taught, on parents who met her, and colleagues who worked with her. She was also a devoted wife and dedicated to animal welfare.

Hazel was born in Northampton on 11 January 1968 to Margaret and John Snow. Brought up in Haversham, Milton Keynes, along with her elder sister, Mandy, she worked and played hard at school, achieved good grades and went to the University of Leeds in 1989 to study Social Policy. It was here, in 1992, that we met.

Hazel went on to study for a Post Graduate Certificate of Education at the University of Plymouth, maintaining our long-distance relationship, asI was studying in Liverpool. It wasat Plymouth that she developed the love of teaching that would defineher life. She excelled in the training, having a natural knack with primary school children, a love of art andcraft and a bright and reassuring way in the classroom.

Moving to Kent for her first teaching post, she made an immediate impact. She was well organised and planned lessons diligently with the children in mind; fun, flexible learning was at the fore. Her first class progressed well and her pleasant and easy-going character reassured parents and encouraged children to enjoy school. Pupils from this school would continue to write to her.

In 1995 she moved to Lancashire and we married in August of that year. She developed a similar style and rapport at Shakespeare School in Fleetwood, where again she would make life-long bonds with pupils, parents and colleagues. She remained hard-working, extremely likeable, approachable and friendly. She also relished out-of-school activities, taking part in and organising school plays, bring-and-buy sales and treasure hunts along the Promenade.

Outside school, we bought a dog, Rosie, from the local animal shelter, and she took a procession of animals she found hurt and injured to the vet, ending up with a number of entries on the vet's database for pigeons, dogs, hedgehogs and guinea pigs.

Longing to live in the south-west, we moved to Swindon in 1999. However, it was shortly after moving here that a benign tumour was discovered in her brain after she suffered a seizure. Despite continuing seizures, Hazel continued to work in two further schools in the town, largely concealing her worsening health and her worrying symptoms. She entered a cycle of regular brain scans, largely in Oxford.

Ultimately, her declining health meant she gave up her teaching, much to the detriment of the profession. She had major brain surgery and radiotherapy in 2005, costing her both her vision and her memory. Despite this setback, Hazel remained active in the local brain injury support group, Headway, inspiring a support website,, and maintaining a hugely positive outlook in difficult circumstances.

Her heath continued to decline, and she entered residential care in 2007. She remained polite and charmingto other residents and nurses, her courage and bravery touching everyone who came into contact withher. She died on 23 November 2008. She was a remarkable woman witha huge heart, a talented teacher, a beautiful person who would never expect a thank-you but would give her all for others.

Richard Crutchley