More than 400 friends attended a thanksgiving and celebration for the life and work of Harriet Rowlands at Beaumont School on Sunday.
Mrs Rowlands was a Drama and English teacher at Beaumont School until her retirement in July 2013. She took her own life in January after a ‘brief and unexpected’ severe depressive illness, a coroner ruled last month.
The programme reflected the extraordinary breadth of Mrs Rowlands’ professional, personal and artistic interests. Former students, Rob Welling and Dom Hyams, spoke of her enduring loyalty and commitment to her students which had profoundly influenced their own lives and so many other Beaumont students.
Colleagues and students, past and present, performed a number of Mrs Rowlands’ favourite songs. There was also a re-enactment of scenes from the 2012 school production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, the final play directed by Mrs Rowlands’ before her retirement.
Gabor Ney, a professional accompanist and lifelong friend, travelled from Hungary to play Rhapsody in B Minor by Brahms.
A memorable finale comprised a rendering of Lean on Me and the Teddy’s Bears’ Picnic.
Harriet’s husband, Councillor Anthony Rowlands said: “It was profoundly moving to hear the thoughts of young people Harriet supported as a teacher and to witness their hugely talented musical and dramatic performances.
"It reminds us as a family of that old Jewish saying that a person finally dies when people no longer remember them. With so many young people participating, this was especially poignant."
Councillor Rowlands’ added the family are deeply grateful to everyone at Beaumont School for making the celebration possible.
The continuing collection for Youth Talks in memory of Mrs Rowlands’ has now raised nearly £5,000.