Joyce Pickard (nee Blake), who passed away on Friday 8 September, was Headmistress of The Mount School from 1960-1977.
Adrienne Richmond, Principal of the School, said today of her predecessor: “In so many ways, Joyce embodied the core Quaker values of The Mount School, which promotes peace, equality, truth, simplicity and social justice. She was renowned, in York and further afield, for her very public stance against war, inequality and injustice.
“Joyce 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.’
“Joyce served as Headmistress of The Mount for seventeen years, the second-longest running period in the school’s history. Her youthfulness, vigour and determination made her a formidable role model. At the time of her retirement, the Clerk to Committee (Chair of the school’s governors) said, “The period of Joyce’s service has brought more, and more far-reaching changes, than any comparable period in the history of The Mount. Some have reflected changes in society itself; others are the direct result of the passing of former certainties about education.” She had carried the school through some challenging times, and left it in good heart, with a full waiting list.
“Joyce served The Mount faithfully and fearlessly, as shown by the personal memories and condolences which our Old Scholars have shared since learning of Joyce’s passing. She did indeed, in the words of George Fox, ‘walk cheerfully over the world, answering to that of God in everyone.’ We are thankful for her life and her service to the School and its wider community.”
Joyce was a Quaker, having joined the Society of Friends while living near Liverpool where she taught at a girls’ grammar school. She’d studied modern languages at Westfield College (University of London) and just before war broke out she had been living in Germany, to improve her German. This spirit of adventure and international outlook served her well at The Mount, where she took up the post of Headmistress at the age of 38, one of the youngest Heads in the school’s 232 year history. After retiring, she married and remained in York where she campaigned for many social causes, including the CND, York Peace Centre, York Against the War, euthanasia and York Interfaith. In 2007 she was made an Honourary Freeman of the City of York.
Many Old Scholars have shared memories and condolences on The Mount’s social network pages.
“I have a lasting memory of her swooping past us on her bicycle on our way to Meeting, calling, “Gloves!” – RB
“Amazing Head to The Mount School, for all of my seven years there, every day of which I absolutely loved, despite being hauled up in front of her regularly.” – FD
“At school, I feared and respected her! A woman of refreshing candour.” – JB
“She was a good headmistress as well as a lovely person. Lots of respect for her. She was my Headmistress for my first few years at The Mount and I stayed distantly in touch.” – RW
“Lovely lady who I remember very well from my Mount School days.” – TL
“Whatever one says will be inadequate. An amazing, passionate and energetic woman.” – EM
“She was an extraordinary Head for The Mount.” – AM
Among Friends: The Story of The Mount School, York, Sarah Sheils, James & James, 2007
Joyce Pickard’s Life of War and Peace, Steven Lewis, York Press, 25 January, 2012
The Mount Old Scholars Association
The Mount School Community
Huddersfield Friends’ Meeting House