Teacher Nancy’s artistic legacy lives on

In 2020 Autism Berkshire received a donation of more than £6,000 raised in memory of the late Nancy England, a former assistant tutor on our community education courses and a well-known teacher in Maidenhead.

Nancy, right, who died at the start of that year, taught at schools in Maidenhead and Reading for more than 30 years and her family decided to raise funds for us in her memory, asking people who knew Nancy to donate to support projects linked to the arts and encouraging creativity for autistic people.

The Covid pandemic delayed development of a suitable project but we are currently running a series of free Art in the Summer workshops for autistic adults at Beech Lodge School, in Stubbings, just outside Maidenhead – click here to find out more

Nancy’s daughter Sophie visited the workshop held on Monday, June 12, to find out more about the project, meet some of those taking part and see artworks created at previous sessions.

She also talked to tutor Susi Hoyle, of Art Splash, and Autism Berkshire’s CEO Jane Stanford-Beale and autism development worker Helen Harris, who leads our projects supporting autistic adults in the east of Berkshire.

Nancy’s husband Chris England said: “She would be thrilled to know that her work was being carried on in her name through this project.

“Nancy worked as a primary and junior school teacher for 37 years in Reading and in Maidenhead. She was popular with pupils, parents and colleagues alike.

“She was very child-centred and enjoyed working with and supporting challenging children who didn’t always find school easy. Her particular forte was children with special needs and different learning difficulties.

“Nancy’s manner was always a positive blend of enthusiasm and empathy. She channelled this through creative approaches, especially in art.

“In her latter years, she transferred these talents to working with autistic adults, setting up and delivering courses in Slough and Reading. She had a deep understanding of their condition and needs. Even during her illness, nothing would stop her thinking of her students’ wellbeing.”

Jane Stanford-Beale said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Sophie to the workshop so that she could find out how autistic adults we support are benefiting from the amazing generosity of Nancy’s family and friends.”

  • We would like to thank Beech Lodge School for allowing us to use the art room at the school to run the workshops and for regularly hosting special events for our Bear With Me social group for autistic adults.

Pictured are: top, Sophie England, with Autism Berkshire’s Jane Stanford-Beale, left, and Helen Harris, second left; and, above, Helen and Jane with some of those attending the art workshops and tutor Susi Hoyle, back, far right.

Photographs: Chris Forsey