BATOD
The British Association of Teachers of the Deaf
Promoting Excellence in Deaf Education

A loving memory of Angie Reese by BATOD colleagues

Sheila Smith, Corinda Carnelley, Angela Soutar, Mary Ensor, Cindy Paulding, Joyce Sewell-Rutter, Ann Underwood
Angie on the morning of Jeff’s wedding (2010) at the home of the bride

Angie lost her battle on the 20th April this year. She will be missed by everyone she came into contact with.

When so much of the day is spent working in the interests of deaf children - who then spends yet more time trying to support the job we do and improve outcomes for the young people we teach? Allow us to tell you about Angie Reese, a tireless committee worker, among many other roles, who sadly died on April 20th this year after battling cancer courageously for many years. We, who served with her on the BATOD South Region Committee, the BATOD Pre-school Special Interest Group and the National Executive Council of BATOD have the privilege of recalling some of our memories.

In a pen profile given in March 2005 Angie herself confessed to the following:

  • Number of years as teacher of the deaf - 12
  • ed aud - none
  • cacdp - stage 1
  • major professional interest - everything
  • personal interest - knitting and theatre (not that I have the time to go that often!)
  • committee meeting time - from work about 25 mins
  • years on committee - too many to count!’

In her usual inimitable style she added: "Anything else needed - just ring". 

It is this final sentiment that truly sums Angie up. She would do, then she would offer to do some more.

As a member of BATOD National Executive Council between 1996 and 1999 Angie became part of MAP - the Membership and Publicity Committee, chairing the group for several sessions and offering her home as a meeting place. We were always welcomed and made comfortable and then Angie made us knuckle down to plan information packs and leaflets to spread the word about BATOD and the work of Teachers of the Deaf. The basis of that work remains unpinning many of our publications and mebership work today.

Following committee service, Angie became Chair of the BATOD South Region group in November 2003 and served energetically for two years despite recurring health issues. She would turn up at Committee meetings sometimes following a day’s chemotherapy, feeling, and sometimes looking, far from well but never made a murmur about it. She always greeted you with enthusiasm and a genuine interest in how you were feeling. A brilliant organiser, Angie had lists of jobs for all of us to do and it was as a result of this negotiated planning that so much was achieved. We ran two conferences during her time of office which were well attended and positively evaluated. She even stepped up to present a workshop when a speaker could not attend. She valued the team around her never taking personal credit for what was done. During her time as chair person she encouraged colleagues to observe a meeting to get a feel before committing to the role-smitten in one. And there was fun along the way - Christmas meals and social gatherings. She lived by her faith bringing sweets along to share a Jewish Festival with us all.

Another member recalls: Angie once told me a story...one of the hospitals she worked in had a large rocking horse in reception. Every day she looked at this horse and was tempted to have a go.  Then one morning she could not resist a ride any more and so in a then empty waiting room had a go. She was caught on the CCTV! I think that sums up her sense of fun!

I took Angie out for a 'taster' day when I was working for the London Borough of Barnet.  It was immediately apparent that she would be a most enthusiastic Teacher of the Deaf and would not stop until she had given what she perceived to be the best service for her pupils.  In subsequent years, as she trained and qualified, I stayed in touch with her and this proved to be true.  She was an invaluable member of the South Region Committee, never turning down any job that was asked of her; in addition she was a most reliable member of NEC.  A kinder person you could not wish to meet. 

My memories of Angie are far more of her role in the BATOD Preschool Special Interest Group. She was one of the founder members of the group, and I don’t think she ever missed any of our conferences/meetings. She took an active role in the planning of the conferences, and always took on the task of staffing the ‘welcome’ desk’, giving out packs and badges. She was unfailingly hard-working and cheerful, despite all the anxiety surrounding her health. I never knew her to opt out – she just kept on keeping on! As well as being a BATOD colleague, I was proud to call myself her friend. She is greatly missed by many, many people, as could be seen at her funeral, where there wasn’t even standing room in the synagogue, and people were crowding around the doors. A lovely lady who gave 100% to everything she did.

She cared a lot about deaf children. She fought so hard. A real example to us all.

Thank you Angie.

Words from Angie's funeral

Angie was often a contradiction.

Whilst the majority of us say mummy or daddy for their first word, Angie’s was marmalade, something she hated and never ate.

She claimed to be totally disorganised but used lists and lists and lists to remind her and ended up being the one to organise everyone else. These lists were used year after year at holidays, or other occasions.

With her career she was never uncertain. From the age of 5 she wanted to be a teacher. She loved teaching and from the comments, both the pupils and the parents seemed to love her.

The first year they introduced the SATS tests she taught that year. The paperwork stacked up to about two feet high and was the most complicated system imaginable. Angie decided to deal with it in her own way. Some time afterwards a parent came up to her at the school very agitated and said she was very worried that Angie hadn’t started the SATS yet. She had asked her son every day if they had taken the SATS tests and he had told her no just the usual school work.

Angie told the mum they had already completed the SATS. She had actually incorporated them into the normal lessons to avoid fear and 'examitus'. The result was a genuine test of the kids abilities. There were three pass levels. 1 - poor; 2 - average; 3 - very good.

Most of her class were 2 with one boy scoring 3. She then invited the parents to sit the same exams as she had given them to the kids. Not one parent scored 3. The reason was that for part of the test they had to consider the weight of various items and to score a 3 all you had to do was ask to use the scales that had to be sitting on a work top in plain sight. Not one parent did!!!

After nearly 18 years of class teaching Angie had a girl in her class who was deaf. This meant she had to change many ingrained habits such as talking to the class whilst facing the blackboard. She became intrigued with the problems of teaching a deaf child and was always looking for better ways of doing things. She found out that there was a post graduate degree in teaching the hearing impaired at Hatfield University. She wanted to do it but could not afford to do without her salary so she stayed on as a teacher. Then amazingly she had another deaf child in her class the following year. Now more determined than ever she gave notice that no matter what the cost she would take the Hatfield course the following year. The parent of the first deaf child was so impressed by the progress his daughter had made under Angie’s tutoring he paid for all her tuition fees and Angie’s father payed the equivalent of her salary. Three quarters of the way through the course she was informed of an administrative foul up... because of the way the course had been written to qualify for a Masters degree all she needed was a 30,000 word dissertation.

After gaining the post grad degree with merit she went back to teaching the next year whilst also writing the 30,000 word dissertation. She gained a Masters with distinction!

From then on her teaching was always in relation to deaf pupils first in a school unit then with Hertfordshire local authority. She moved on to Hounslow Council and later to Bexley before finally moving to the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear hospital in Kings Cross in their Cochlear implant unit helping with newly diagnosed children and those up to18 years old. She remained there for over 7 years until ill health forced her to take medical retirement at the end of last year.

She joined BATOD and was for a time Chairman of BATOD South. She collaborated with others to produce a number of booklets and manuals, some of which are still being used today.

She had a great sense of fun, in the hospital where she worked they had two wooden rocking horses that had been repaired and put in a play area for kids. Angie always left the house very early to miss the traffic and allow her to use bus lanes. As a result she arrived before anyone else at the hospital and decided one day to ride the wooden horses. Later that day she noticed that various porters would pass her door grinning. She tackled the head porter and asked 'Why?'. He took her to the security booth to see the most popular CCTV clip of the day, her riding the rocking horse.

All who knew her will have many memories. Her love of Emmerdale, her inability to sing a note in tune, the challenge when she said right or left if she meant that or the opposite, her love of knitting, making baby clothes for any expectant mother she knew, her sense of fun, her love of red - red cars, red nails, red clothing. Her support when things were not going well. The repeated reply to any enquiry about how she was of - I’m fine, the love for her family.

This is how Angie will be remembered. Not as she was after 14 years of fighting cancer. And fight she did. Although she had five different sessions of chemotherapy and two of radio therapy she went on working, saying it grounded her and gave her a purpose. She didn’t complain she just got on with things with many friends and family unaware of the extent of the illness. It wasn’t until the end of last year when it became too difficult that she took early retirement.

Her greatest joy was seeing her son Jeff married to Emma last year, she was so happy she glowed.

Angie lost her battle on the 20th April this year. She will be missed by everyone she came into contact with.