15 July 2017
Now living in Vancouver, Alison Leedham (nee Broad) is the great niece of Mary Broad (on her paternal grandfather’s side) and she was joined by her nephew, Richard Broad, to have a tour of the school and visit the extensive school archive. Although her great-aunt had died before Alison was born, she was informed by relatives that Mary Broad was every bit the kind person portrayed in various writings about her. Her aim was to provide a first-class education for girls that was liberal, progressive and pioneering, and that ethos still holds true today, over 130 years later.
The visitors said they were ‘stunned by Talbot Heath’ and the warm reception they received, and were overwhelmed to learn ‘that [Mary Broad] was still such an integral part of the school. Even the architecture was a real surprise, and what a gem.’ Talbot Heath is a Church of England School, and religious beliefs played a large part in Mary Broad’s life as an Anglican. Her parents (and several generations back) had been non-conformists, whilst her grandfather, John Broad, was revered by Hitchin Baptist Church.
When Mary Broad retired the Old Girls gave her some jewellery: a pendant, a brooch and a ring. The back of the brooch is inscribed “M.A.B. with love from the Old Girls Dec. 1924”. Mary bequeathed these items to the family and they have now been kindly donated to the school’s archive. The Head said: ‘The jewellery will be treasured and is an important part of the school’s history’, adding what a pleasure it had been to welcome Alison and Richard to Talbot Heath.