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News > Obituaries > Dianne Falle - Eulogy by her daughter Sue and Mike Higham

Dianne Falle - Eulogy by her daughter Sue and Mike Higham

You are warmly invited to leave a message below, share your memories, and celebrate the life of Dianne Falle who we sadly lost in February 2023.
17 Mar 2023

Following her lovely farewell service on the 13th of March at Bix Church, the Falle family would like to thank all those who attended the service. Below you can find a Eulogy by Sue, Dianne's daughter and Mike Higham.

'What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within.' 
Ralf Waldo Emerson.

That quote meant a lot to Di – our mum.

Sue, Dianne's daughter

Mum would have loved to see that you have come here today and although there is of course sadness at her loss, we are here to celebrate her life.

These are some of the ways people have described mum over the last 3 weeks: kind, caring, patient, warm, sunny, genuinely interested in people and what they were doing, a professional transformational teacher; her colleagues all learnt from her too, she made a difference to many of those she taught – they arrived nervous and shy starting big school for the first time and she was there always gunning for the underdog. She had high standards, she was fun and firm and was a stickler for good manners – Izzy, one of her granddaughters, remembers that she definitely didn’t get away with calling her ‘stinky grandy’.

She had a wicked sense of humour, a force of energy, she had an amazing generosity of spirit and had the ability to put people at their ease and see the best in everyone, she was an amazing hostess.

She worked hard and cared about how things looked, from her flower arranging, to her beautifully designed garden and stylishly decorated house full of the antiques she collected; Jack her youngest grandchild remembers her as having an elegant wardrobe. She loved how the world around her looked and it made her very happy.

She was a loyal friend, she had a particular ability to encourage, and one of my favourites – she was a pocket rocket.

So let’s look at the Spring of mum’s life – Snowdrop, Daffodil and Bluebell

Mum was born on October 3rd 1941 in Leeds to Marian and Jack Booth – Jack’s occupation on her birth certificate was Dumper Driver and Marian had worked in the Mill. They brought her home to 20 Kirkham Street, Rodley (a mill village on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal) – their home was a back-to-back - 2 up 2 down - terraced house with an outdoor loo at the back. They were a fiercely proud working-class community – where your front doorstep was regularly scrubbed clean.

Although mum was brought up in that tight community, she knew she wanted something beyond it and the only way she could see that happening was through working hard at school. Education was the key that opened the door for her and she remained passionate about education all her life.

Mum went to Armley Park Secondary School then Thorseby High School and for the first time in the Booth family history she went onto further education – Eaton Hall Teacher Training College part of Nottingham University.

One friend remembers a shy Di arriving at college on the first day - they had chatted, started to get to know each other, and had rooms close by.  After they had all gone to bed, there was a quiet knock at her door – it was mum ….homesick…. Her first night away from 20 Kirkham Street. They slept top to tail in the single bed that night. It was a reassurance she needed - and maybe that is what she remembered when she greeted new children at school.

However, she was now off on her own adult life journey.

She graduated 3 years later in 1963 with a Teaching Practice credit.

On graduation, this was the comment from the principal:

“Miss Booth was actively engaged in various aspects of college life. She was a member of the Student Christian Movement, and did excellent work in the College Library. She had a very successful college career and there are high indications of her ability to teach. She should be most successful in the classroom.”

Mum’s final reflections in her child study practice workbook were – I quote:

“What I have learned is the importance of spending time, time to really understand a child and all the growth, development and support they need. So that each individual can meet life with the best of resources at their disposal.”

Her teaching journey began well.

It was at this time that mum met dad, a handsome young RAF officer at a dance in Retford. She was at that time already engaged to marry someone else …. Yes, and I remember her reflecting on that time... firstly on how difficult it was to let that other young man down but how certain she was that Dad was the one. She was a shrewd judge of character!

She was now entering her summer – Allium, Rose and Peony

She married dad on the 19th December 1964 and I was born 9 months later in Lincolnshire near to where Dad was stationed in the RAF – mum went on to have Steve and then Rich – this was a busy time with a young family to bring up while working at local schools. Her own nuclear family was tiny; she was an only child and so were her parents, so she loved the idea of having a large family.

We had many wonderful childhood summer holidays in Jersey playing with our cousins on the beach. Mum considered Aunty Audrey, my dad’s sister, as the sister she never had. I particularly remember mum’s amazing children’s parties – old school games:  eating chocolate with a knife and fork while wearing oven gloves, memory tray game, dressing up running races – a basket for each child at the party that mum made out of old cardboard vegetable boxes individually wrapped in different coloured crepe paper with each child’s name on it. Fun, care and attention to detail.

When dad left the RAF and became a commercial pilot we moved to Peppard, Oxfordshire and Mum made an interesting job application to a small prep school called Moulsford – it was 1973 and she was offered £250 for a part time role for 1 term only - her long Moulsford journey had begun. We are pleased to have Mike Higham here today, he was the last headmaster mum worked with at Moulsford, to tell us more about mum’s career at the school.

Mike Higham

Wallace and Grommit, a partnership that became a phenomenal success and made us laugh. We never mention one without the other. Gin and Tonic another partnership that has stood the test of time. Why do I mention these two partnerships….well Dianne loved to party and laugh but, more importantly, there is a third partnership that arguably has been just as influential and important, as Wallace, Grommit, Gin and Tonic, and that partnership is Moulsford Prep School and Dianne Falle. Where would the school be without Dianne? Indeed, Moulsford might not even be here today without Dianne such was her impact and influence she had on its success. Moulsford and Dianne, two words that naturally flow together as much as any other famous combination. A remarkable lady whose life we all come to celebrate today.

Her career at Moulsford started as a teacher in 1973, retiring from that position after 26 years in 1999 and then for ten years from 2000 to 2010, a Moulsford school Governor so 36 years in all and that is not to mention her continued support after stepping down as a Governor. A very proud old Mole. Those are the bare bones of a most extraordinary career dedicated to one school.

Her initial role at Moulsford was a part time teacher but soon became full time and form head of 1F a class of 7 year olds in their first year at the school. A reasonably straightforward role one might suggest but a vital one nevertheless. Liaising with all new parents and instilling into her boys a love of learning always with a smile on her face. As time went by other areas, Dianne either assumed responsibility for or just got on with what needed doing.

These days in schools there are Directors of this and Heads of that, but Dianne didn’t need any title to be recognised at Moulsford. Her title was simply Mrs Falle and we all knew, boys, staff and parents what that meant. Any mention of her name and there was instant respect and people listened and took notice. Mind you, we listened a lot because Dianne loved to chat!

She became Head of RS, took responsibility for the assessment of boys entering the school at aged seven. She became the unofficial mentor to all new staff. As her career progressed, she took on the mantle of senior mistress, was the charity co-ordinater, events organiser, Flower arranger in chief and so much more.

What made her so special and respected by everybody? One cannot put one’s finger on any one thing, but Dianne had the knack of gelling with just about everybody, reading situations, taking responsibility without ever being asked, having an intuitive feel for what was needed in any given situation without anybody realizing exactly what she had done. In case you have the impression she was a fearsome lady, well she could be occasionally but, on top of everything else, she filled the school with laughter, fun, style and made it a pleasure to be in her company whether you were a pupil, parent, member of staff or Governor. A real talent few are blessed with.

From the boys she expected the highest of standards and they responded in spades. Indeed a few of the old boys I’ve spoken to in the last few weeks say if they hadn’t been in 1F and set on the right path they wouldn’t have been the successful individuals they are today. Quite remarkable that she had that influence on pupils who remember those days, some nearly 40 years later.

 It is a similar story with staff. I said that Dianne was the unofficial mentor of all new staff and particularly the young and inexperienced ones. Some of them are now Heads and Deputy Heads and as one said to me recently, I spent 4 years training to be a teacher but in one term, I learnt more from Dianne what it really meant to be a teacher and an outstanding one at that. Dianne cared and forgive me Sue, Steve and Rich, but they were like her extended family and wanted nothing but the best for them and she succeeded on every count.

She was always very honest with people too and never shied away from telling it as it was as the following indicates. Each year the school produces a magazine as a record for the year. In Dianne’s time, each form head gave a resume of their particular form. I was amused to read her recollections in 1993 of her form 1F. Wouldn’t get away with it these days but her comments about her three Form Captains of the year were out in the public domain, frank and to the point. Dianne wrote, ‘This year we had three very capable Form Captains. Tim Wigley, pretty good, Ben Lazarus, fair but quite bossy and James Anderson strict but funny….if only we could be quite so honest these days!!

My own memories; well all of the above similar to the ex boys and staff. An outstanding schoolmistress who I relied on for a quick chat that every Head needs when you are not quite sure how to go about something or react to an issue. Her wise words were invaluable. When she announced her retirement it was a blow, but I was determined we shouldn’t lose her expertise. After a relatively short period, I asked her if she would consider being a Governor of the school and she readily agreed. She was invited officially by Sir Anthony Farrah Hockley the chairman at the time. So I had another 10 years of her wise council and was grateful for every minute of it.

I conclude with a couple of stories, which perhaps typifies her dedication and love that everybody had for her. The first was about a very bright boy who took the entrance test during my first year as Head and numbers were very low, so we were very keen to have him. The parents hesitated and indicated they were going elsewhere. I spoke to Dianne and she said, “Well I know them a bit and where they live and could drop round and have a chat with them to see what they’re thinking”. Not sure, this was appropriate but as it was Dianne, and I wasn’t certain what else we could do, I agreed. The next morning she came in to my study smiling with an envelope and presented it to me. Inside was the signed contract and the deposit, in cash! Not sure, what she said but, of course, those of us who knew her well, she could be a very persuasive lady!

The second was her leaving party. We had a huge Marquee in the grounds and had invited old boys and families to come and say farewell over tea and cakes. Eira Hoare, the long standing and much admired Director of Music was retiring as well and the pair of them stood either side of the Marquee entrance rather like the bride and groom at a wedding reception greeting all the guests. As I witnessed the arrival of many old boys there was a huge hug from their old schoolmistress. A nice touch I thought and they chatted. Dianne knew them all and wanted to know their life stories after leaving Moulsford so the chats lasted quite some time. The queue to greet her got longer and longer and longer and the hugs kept coming. There was nothing I could do to speed up the process and I am not sure what time we finished but the sun was certainly going down and the tea got cold!

Everybody that day loved Dianne and she loved them and that just about sums up what all those connected to Moulsford, in any capacity, felt about this remarkable lady.

To those of us who worked alongside her it was a real privilege to do so.

I end as I started. The words Dianne Falle and Moulsford will be forever linked together, and we have all so much to thank her for. God bless Dianne and thank you.

Sue continues...

So we have heard that she was a gifted teacher whom many boys have benefited from – in fact Rich remembers being on holiday in Belize about 10 years ago when an ex-Moulsford student noticed the name “Falle” on an excursion list, and sought Rich out - not to find out what he’d been up to over the last 35 years but to find out how mum was and to tell Rich of his fond memories of her and the impact she had on him.

However, there were some things she wasn’t as good at! We were now all teenagers and having, courtesy of British Airways, amazing adventurous holidays. 

Although mum was strong, often out in her garden all day long - sport was not her thing.

We remember one holiday in Australia; we had hired bikes to cycle round an island just off the coast of Brisbane and we had an evening flight to catch that day. Firstly, dad had somehow forgotten that mum really couldn’t ride a bike – we had to literally push her along, as she wasn’t keen on pedalling in case she fell off.  We did a lot of laughing and this held us up - Dad soon realised we might not make the flight. Even though she was terrible mum suddenly started pedalling when she realised how much it would cost us if we missed the flight – you can take the lass out of Yorkshire but you can’t take Yorkshire out of the lass.

I have mentioned she liked things to look beautiful around her – and to smell nice too – there were always bowls of potpourri around. We remember being on holiday in Egypt and going for a camel ride around the pyramids – for those of you who haven’t ridden a camel they are quite a wobbly, smelly affair. Most people would be hanging on for dear life, but mum was busy rummaging around in her handbag to find her perfume to spay around the camel’s ears to improve the quality of her experience.

Driving was certainly not her forte; in fact, it took her six tests and three pregnancies to pass.

Steve and Rich remember being in mum’s car Matilda an old grey Morris Minor when there was a massive “thud” Mum apparently said “Ooh that was a bit of a bump” and carried on driving and talking, until the boys noticed the 2 front wheels rolling down the road in front of the car. The “bit of a bump” had actually been the front axle snapping!

All of this was happening often when Dad was out of the country flying – she was able to cope with all these and many more serious things alone such as the death of her father.  Dad was amazed at her courage and ability to do so – very different to the shy young woman on her first night at college.

Moving back to other things that she was amazing at – Christmas is definitely up there – she loved it and all the grandchildren remember her beautifully co-ordinated decorations and white lights going up on December 1st She loved everything about Christmas  - reading “T’was the night before Christmas” on Christmas eve, the stockings, the games and the food - with her famous sweet tooth for anything with chocolate or cream; trifle and chocolate eclairs amongst her favourites. It was her time to make the house sparkle with warmth and Christmas cheer.

She had two other lifelong hobbies that gave her real joy.

The first was her incredible knowledge and collection of antique furniture – she absolutely could have opened her own shop!

The second was her flower arranging – she really was very good at it – working often with Christine doing weddings with large pedestals and all sorts of amazing things hanging from the roof of marquees – the flowers for both Steve and Richards’ weddings were incredible - she even did a wedding in Westminster Abbey - you would never have known it wasn’t done by a professional florist!

Thanks to Christine with backing from Winx and Sophie for the flowers today – mum would have loved them.

So now we are entering her Autumn – Virginia creeper, Sea Holly, Salvia

We pick up where Mike finished – her retirement from Moulsford allowing for more time to travel and time to spend at ‘Bellehatch,’ their lovely home, with friends and family. Mum was a loyal caring friend, she loved organising social events with “les girls” as they were called – some of whom are here today. She made everyone feel welcome and included.

Anne remembers one “les girls” night at Bellehatch where she and mum were chatting away having a sly cigarette when dad walked in, and quick as a flash mum stubbed her cigarette out in Anne’s ashtray and said, “I keep telling Anne not to smoke 2 at once!” 

They had regular trips each year to South Africa for over 10 years with lots of their friends such as Heather and Dennis and Shirley and Alan.

Also catching up with Linda and Dave probably their oldest friends from RAF days. Linda particularly treasured mum saying that Dave was like a brother to her.

She hosted Games Days at Bellehatch for friends and family throughout the summer and these are some of mine and James’ children Sophie, Josh and Ben’s key memories of their Grandy - she was named Grandy by Sophie the eldest grandchild and the name stuck. The games days were epic with croquet, bowls, putting, tennis, petanque, darts, jenga, quoits all set up round the garden and then a delicious lunch laid out in the garden room while a small cup was presented to the winner to bring back and defend the following year.

Grandy loved taking Rich and Fi’s children; Em, Jess and Izzy to Euro Disney, where they could all tell that Grandy loved the magic of it all just as much as they did. In fact, she loved it so much she and dad took them individually so they could go 3 times!

And I know she was thrilled when Freddie and Jack came along for Steve and Winx completing her desire for a large, loving family.

That family has continued to expand with her great grandchildren, James and Rory and another expected in July and I am sure many more will follow.

And now we enter winter - her last season and its gifts – Christmas Rose, Winter Heather and Aconites

Mum was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease in 2010 and then dementia associated with Parkinson’s in 2016. As these diseases progressed, they changed mum’s life and this brought as you might imagine for her both fear and sadness yet she held it with such courage and dignity.

We found a new way of being with mum, she responded in different ways, we learnt new ways to include her, and there were moments of profound connection. She continued to be an important presence to us all.

Although hard … there were “gifts”. We saw genuine “love” - and I know a number of you saw that too – it was with admiration and wonder that we watched how both Dad and Dee looked after mum with such deep compassion.

Dee, as a family we want to thank you for all you have done – you knew mum for 20 years and cared for her for the last 7 and intimately for the last 4 years – even moving in during COVID lockdown. You helped her maintain her dignity - hair always beautiful and immaculately dressed at all our family events - family lunches, birthdays, farewells, post COVID gatherings and most recently Josh and Ben’s weddings. None of us turned away from her in this illness and you made that easier for us all.   Thank you

If things had been different, I know mum would have cared for dad in the same way that he has done for her – their love for each other and their determination that each other’s wishes were respected are clear – mum was loved and cared for at home, as she wanted, to the very end.

She knew she’d made exactly the right decision 59 years ago to choose dad.

And I know, for certain, that she left this world knowing she was truly loved.

So I end as I started.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within.”

Mum will be remembered for what lay within, qualities such as kindness, empathy, compassion, loyalty and fairness and each of us who knew her, will take a little of that with us, and we, in our turn will pass that on.

Thank you: Mum, Grandy, Mrs Falle and of course Di.


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