A CAMPAIGNER who was the youngest ever head teacher at a prestigious York girl's school has died aged 95.

Joyce Pickard passed away on Friday (September 8). She was head of The Mount School from 1960-1977 taking the helm at the tender age of 38.

Mrs Pickard was born Joyce Blake in 1921 and grew up in Derby. Her father was a captain in the First World War, who went on to join the railways and rose to become what she calls their “first ever welfare officer.”

Her mother left school at the age of 11, became apprenticed to a dressmaker, and went on to take the business over. Joyce grew up with her brother, Norman, who was later to die – of natural causes – at the end of the Second World War.

She was good at school, studying French and German in the sixth form of a girl’s grammar school. At the end of her first year in the sixth form she went to Munich for a few weeks to improve her German. It was summer, 1939. While there, she received a letter from the British consulate, informing her that, “in view of the present situation… we would urgently urge you to consider removing yourself at this time from Germany."

The teenage Joyce took a train to Paris and travelled from there to Victoria Station in London, arriving penniless just as war was declared.

After finishing school, she studied modern languages at the University of London’s Westfield College – which was evacuated to Oxford because of the war – completed a teaching certificate, then took a teaching post at a girls’ grammar school near Liverpool. A few years later she returned to Derby when her father died, so as to be with her mother, getting a job at a school there.

By this time, she had become a Quaker. In 1959, prompted by other Quakers, she applied for the advertised post of head at The Mount School in York. She only applied to shut them all up, she says, never dreaming she would get the job.

She said: “I was a classroom teacher in July, and head of a school in September!” She'd been in York ever since.

She married her husband, Alan, when she was 55 and they were together for 13 years until his death aged 82.

Her campaigning in her adopted city was legendary. She was, at various times, a member of CND, the York Peace Centre, the University of the Third Age, York Against the War, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the York Interfaith Group. In 2007, she was made an Honorary Freeman of the City. Mrs Pickard was also a founder member of the North Yorkshire branch of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society. Mount Principal, Adrienne Richmond, said: “Joyce was renowned, in York and further afield, for her very public stance against war, inequality and injustice. She did her best to keep the school abreast of change, while at the same time avoiding the merely fashionable. She wanted the girls in her care to look beyond themselves and the here and now, after the Quaker maxim, ‘the things that are seen are temporal; the things that are unseen are eternal.’"

One old pupil remembering Mrs Pickard said: “I have a lasting memory of her swooping past us on her bicycle on our way to Meeting, calling, “Gloves!”."