Obituary: Long-serving teacher who read by candlelight, dies at 86

A sense of pride: Marina Daniels, pictured in Dereham, when she lodged in the town after she started teaching

A sense of pride: Marina Daniels, pictured in Dereham, when she lodged in the town after she started teaching at its secondary school - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

A long-serving teacher whose passion for learning began as a child when she would read by candlelight late into the evening has died aged 86. 

And while Marina Daniels, of north Norfolk, had every faith in her ability to teach others, her mother took a little more convincing. 

Despite the young Marina passing her eleven-plus examination and subsequently attending North Walsham High School for Girls, the headmistress had to attend the family home and prove the talents of the schoolgirl. 

Eventually, her mother conceded and Marina soon found herself on route to teaching training college, destined for a career that became a lifelong passion. 

Marina Daniels dedicated most of her life to teaching children. She has died aged 86

She loved children: Marina Daniels dedicated most of her life to teaching children. She has died aged 86 - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Marina Daniels was born under the shadow of Worstead church, near North Walsham, on October 17, 1935. 

Her father was a widower who had remarried and he died when Mrs Daniels was aged just four. She also had two step-brothers who fought in the Second World War.

Raised by her mother, she attended the local school and Saint Mary the Virgin church and lived in the village until she left for Leicestershire to undertake her two years of teacher training at Loughborough College. 

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Her elder daughter, Elaine, explained how it could have been a much different story. 

“It was the headmistress who persuaded her mum to let her go to teacher training college as her mum did not think she could become a teacher.

“It was a big thing for a woman to do during that time, and she was incredibly proud of herself.” 

Following the completion of her training, Mrs Daniels returned to Norfolk and began teaching geography and needlework at Dereham High School for Girls. At the time, she lodged in the town with a woman nicknamed “Aunty Evelyn”.

During the 1950s, Mrs Daniels would meet her future husband, the late Philip John Daniels, at a dance in his village of Dilham. They married soon after at Worstead church.

Mrs Daniels moved to Dilham, and the couple eventually set up home in a house left to Mr Daniels by his grandfather. 

Following a couple of years teaching in Hoveton, near Wroxham, Mrs Daniels took a break from education to raise her daughters; Elaine, born in 1961, and Alison, in 1965. 

Marina Daniels sits smiling in a boat. The photograph was taken by her late husband, Philip

Happy times: Marina Daniels sits smiling in a boat. The photograph was taken by her late husband, Philip - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

As they grew, Mrs Daniels took on part-time teaching at City College Norwich and then returned to full-time teaching but with a renewed passion, Elaine explained. 

“As we grew older, mum began teaching at Swanton Abbott Primary School and stayed there for almost 30 years. 

“During the late 60s or early 70s, she decided she wanted to begin teaching infants instead. 

“After returning to college and university to retrain to teach infants, she got her Batchelor of Education degree and became more skilled in order to work with younger children.”

Whether at home or at school, it is fair to say that Mrs Daniels enjoyed being a teacher. 

“She loved being with children too,” Elaine added. 

“She was very fond of all the pupils and they were very fond of her. 

“She was also quite a formidable and a strong woman who was determined to better herself. She tried hard to make an impression and strived to help others to get the best out of life by encouraging them and offering opportunities. 

“She had an amazing life.” 

Over the years Mrs Daniels tried a variety of different interests and hobbies including joining the Ramblers, taking part in archaeological digs, walking long distances and on beaches, gardening, volunteering for meals on wheels in the local area, and birdwatching. 

She particularity loved owls and recalled one occasion, after Mr Daniels had died in 2012, when one flew into her living room. 

“She was also a constant reader from childhood – that’s how she did so well at school – and she would read by candlelight.  

“Right up to her last few days she was still reading.”

Just before retirement, Mrs Daniels became a licensed lay minister and a Mothers' Union member. She also enjoyed retreats with a friend at the now-closed convent All Hallows in Ditchingham, near Bungay. 

In later life, she lived with her grandson, Ryan, who was also her carer. 

Mrs Daniels died at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital after a short illness on Wednesday, March 30. As well as her daughters, she leaves behind her grandchildren, Emma, Rebecca, Ryan, Rory, Christy, and Georgina, and great-grandchildren, Emilyn, Hugo, and Eleanor.  

Her funeral takes place at St Nicholas Church in Dilham on Friday, April 22 at 3pm. Family flowers only but donations are payable to Dilham PCC at the service or sent to Murrell Cork Funerals of Stalham, 32-34 High Street, Stalham, NR12 9AN.