Claremont School

Stuart, Class of 1945

Daphne Howell (Wells)

Written by her daughter and fellow Claremont School alumna, Jackie Elphick nee Howell (Norwood, Class of 1977) pays tribute to her late mother Daphne who was a longstanding member of our school community. Daphne was evacuated with Claremont School to Llandrindod Wells in Wales during the War.

“Daphne Howell (nee Wells) 6 September 1927 – 22 January 2023

Daphne was born in Southbourne, Dorset and in 1938 the family moved to Branksome Park in Dorset.  Her sister (Cynthia Hafeli-Wells) started at Claremont in 1934 and Daphne followed, as a boarder, in 1938.  Daphne loved her time at Claremont, embracing all subjects and particularly enjoyed sport and history.  Her love of history remained for her whole life.”

“During the Second World War Daphne was evacuated with the school to Llandrindod Wells in Wales.  The remainder of Daphne’s life at Claremont was spent in Wales until 1945.  There were very few pupils in Wales and Daphne would tell stories of cycling adventures around the countryside with members of staff, sometimes stopping off at a farm.  She often recounted a story when she and a few friends, with a member of staff, were out rowing in a small boat.  Daphne thought it would be amusing to hold onto a rock underneath the water, and the poor member of staff (Miss Modrack) was busy rowing and getting nowhere.  Daphne had great fun at school in Wales and, later on, enjoyed the responsibilities of being a senior pupil, looking after the younger pupils.”

“Daphne also learnt the violin at school and often told the story of being so nervous for a solo performance that she had tensed her knee.  Her knee suddenly went and so did the performance as the bow and violin jerked sharply.

Boarding was fun and Daphne had a small Disney projector.  She would show slides on the ceiling after ‘lights out’ to entertain her fellow dormitory friends.

Leaving Claremont at the end of the war, Daphne spent a year at Domestic Science college, and then secretarial college.  She worked as a secretary in London, and later Bournemouth.  She joined the Sea Rangers, Young Conservatives and Christian Science Youth Forum where she met her husband Lawrence.”

“Daphne stayed in touch with events at Claremont and maintained a close connection with the school.  Later in life, after marrying and having children, a move to Surrey enabled Daphne to rekindle her connection with the school.  Even before her daughter, Jackie, attended Claremont in 1969, Daphne was already serving on Committees.  She served on the Social Committee, for a while as Chair, and later on the PTA.  Daphne enjoyed organising and, in the summer, the whole family would be roped in to help decorate the mansion in readiness for the annual Summer Ball.  She was also in charge of the Golden Jubilee event in 1972, bringing together a huge number of past pupils for a wonderful celebratory lunch.  Her daughter Jackie has many memories of committee meetings at the family home in the evenings.

Whilst serving as Chair on the Social Committee Daphne was responsible for changing the name ‘Old Girl’ to Claremontian. Daphne also worked as a secretary at Claremont for a while.

In 1985 Daphne returned to her beloved Dorset where she joined many organisations and served on their committees, including the Bournemouth and Poole National Trust.  In 2008 she was elected an Honorary Life Member of the Bournemouth and Poole National Trust.  Whilst serving as Chair of the National Trust committee she organised many holidays, and was also a tour guide.  In 2009 Daphne was presented with the Coates Award for invaluable long service to Poole Maritime Trust.  She was also a steward at Kingston Lacey.

However, Daphne kept in touch with Claremont and very much enjoyed the Alumni magazines.  When able, she also returned to Surrey for the Summer Meetings.

A few years ago, Daphne enjoyed being interviewed by the Headmaster, Mr Brierly, at her flat in Bournemouth.  She was so looking forward to another interview in 2023 for the ‘100 voices of Claremont Fan Court School’ page as she was the only living Claremontian from her year group.  Sadly, this was not to be, but she enjoyed the idea that her stories would be shared.

Daphne always had fond memories of Claremont and her time at the school, particularly in the beautiful countryside of Wales.  She kept her school scarf and had a lovely etching of the school.  She made lifelong friends at Claremont and was very proud to have been a pupil.”