Richard Challoner School

Audrey Rotherham R.I.P.

It is with deep sadness that we report that Audrey Rotherham passed away on Tuesday March 7 aged 89 years.

Audrey served the school in the English department for over 30 years, beginning her career at the school in 1969 and retiring in 1999. She later returned to teach an A Level English class even though she had officially retired. Many ex-students will remember her lessons in her base in Annexe 3, which was also the base for a students’ magazine which she edited for several years. She was an inspiring English teacher who was always keen to bring out the creativity in her students of whatever age or ability and to encourage them to express themselves both verbally and in written form (and accurately!!).


Audrey was also briefly Head of the then 4th Year (now Year 10). But it is in her role as Head of Year 7 that she will be remembered by many alumni, welcoming them and helping them to settle into their new school life at Richard Challoner. She was Head of Year 7 for many years until she retired and brought a deep commitment and compassion to this pastoral role.


Audrey was also deeply committed to helping develop the cultural life of the school and supported Art, Music and Drama events throughout her time at the school and beyond into her retirement years. She was an avid theatre-goer and an audience member of the National Theatre. She would frequently organise trips to the ‘National’ for staff and continued these occasionally after she officially left the school. She would also organise theatre trips for students over the years as far afield as Stratford-Upon-Avon.

A Public Speaking cup for Years 10 and 11 has recently been named in her honour. Sadly, she was unable to present it at the Awards Evening on February 24.


Neil Zoladkiewicz, retired Director of Drama writes: ‘Audrey Rotherham was very encouraging and helpful to me when I was taking my first steps as an English teacher on teaching practice in 1982 and when I subsequently joined the English department in 1983. Eventually she became a good friend. I was always impressed by her conscientiousness and professionalism.


She was equally supportive when I established a Drama department and school productions. She taught part of the A level Theatre course briefly and even joined us on our third Drama tour of Hungary in 1993. Audrey loyally attended school productions from my first, ‘A Christmas Carol’ in 1984, to my last ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ in 2020, as well as my colleague Leigh Norton’s productions. I will always be indebted to Audrey for her constant support and encouragement over the years and the Drama Department will too.’


Former Headmaster Tom Cahill worked with Audrey for 15 years and has many fond memories of her. He said “Audrey was not one for mincing her words. She had really high standards and did not suffer fools gladly although she was always willing to help and support her students and colleagues. As a new Head of Department when I first went to Richard Challoner, I was allocated as a First year (now Year 7) Form Tutor under Audrey’s watchful eye. I of course made very sure I did not make any mistakes in the register!! Perhaps the most strange and funny memory I have of Audrey is when she and Tony Harvey (then Deputy Head) ascended into the sky on an RAF helicopter which landed on the school field where the MUGA is currently located. Dr. Harvey had organised an RAF careers fair for the students and they certainly made an impact on staff and students by arranging the helicopter to land, and then to whisk Audrey and Tony into the sky as the whole school looked on in amazement from the main playground.  May she rest in the Peace and Light of Christ”.


Our thoughts and prayers are with Neil, her son, and family at this sad time.


If you would like to post your own memories of Audrey Rotherham on the Richard Challoner Alumni Facebook page, please contact Fiona Glassett at