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Tributes honour Cavendish woman Bernice McCabe as 'inspiring leader, friend and colleague'

By Newsdesk Sudbury

Bernice McCabe OBE (7542124)
Bernice McCabe OBE (7542124)

The funeral of a Cavendish woman described as one of the UK’s leading headteachers will take place in Long Melford on Monday.

Bernice McCabe OBE died after a year-long battle with brain cancer.

Her funeral service will be held in Holy Trinity Church at noon.

Ms McCabe was a personal aide to Prince Charles and received her OBE for services to education in the 2018 New Year’s Honours list.

At the age of 65, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and had written about her illness and diagnosis on the Brain Tumour Research website in September, saying: “Although I retired, I had no intention of slowing down.

“I still had the desire and energy to do so much for education and continued my role as an educational consultant and co-director of The Prince’s Teaching Institute.”

Having married her long-time partner Rod MacKinnon, a retired head of Bristol Grammar School, last year, she explained on the Brain Tumour Research website that her symptoms began on a journey back to Cavendish.

She said: “I’d been driving home to Cavendish, where I lived with Rod, and I experienced a severe pressure headache.

“It was so bad that the two-hour journey took five hours as I stopped regularly to rest. I’d been feeling generally unwell around this time but, as I’d been travelling a lot and not sleeping much, I’d explained it away as tiredness.”

She underwent immunotherapy and said she was sad that the treatment was not available to all brain tumour patients on the NHS, saying she was supporting the Brain Tumour Research charity in its mission to secure funding for more research.

Ms McCabe started her teaching career in her home town of Bristol, before taking up a post as headteacher of Chelmsford County High School in 1990.

She became headmistress of North London Collegiate School, an independent girls school, where she stayed for 20 years until 2017.

Numerous tributes have been paid to her via social media and on education websites on which she was described as “an inspiration”.

Sarah Clark, the current headmistress of North London Collegiate School, paid tribute to her predecessor, saying: “Bernice was an inspiring educationalist, whose interests and energies were manifold.

“Her desire to enable future generations of teachers to be able to burnish and develop the love of their subjects was felt both here at NLCS, as well as in our sister schools in Jeju and Dubai, and also in her work with The Prince’s Teaching Institute.

“Bernice was a wholehearted supporter of the National Brain Appeal, a fund for medical research into the immunotherapy treatment from which she benefited during her illness.”

Mrs Clark added: “Bernice’s legacy will continue at the school. She was committed to providing educational opportunities for children who otherwise would not have been able to afford them here.

“She was an extraordinary leader, and a wonderful friend and colleague. She will be deeply missed.”

The school has set up a fund for donations called The Bernice McCabe Bursary Fund.

At her funeral service, requests are for family flowers only with donations for The National Brain Appeal to be sent to funeral directors H & A W Palmer, Little St Mary’s, Long Melford.

To donate to The National Brain appeal, go online to www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/tnba/immunotherapy.


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