After reporting the death of Donald Bush (YG 1948) in February, we are saddened to hear the news of another death in their family. Eleanor Will (née Lane, YG 1952) died on Saturday 2 May at her home in Leckhampton, Cheltenham. Eleanor was at the school from 1940-45.
Eleanor was born in Walton on Thames on 24th March 1937 to parents Arnold and Kate Lane. Eleanor and her elder sister Leonie Welch (née Lane, YG 1949) were both at Friends' School Saffron Walden in the 1940s, alongside the late Donald, Roger Bush (YG 1952) and their younger sister Susan Cowhig (née Bush, YG 1962): five of cousins at the School over a period of ten to twelve years. Eleanor went from Friends' to secondary education at the Grey Coat Hospital School in London.
She did very well academically and went on to Keele University where she studied Geography gaining her degree and teaching diploma. During her holidays she volunteered with the Service Civil International in both France and India joining work parties to improve living conditions in a leprosarium and urban slum areas. It was during this time she met several of her life time friends and also the sister of the Dalai Lama.
Eleanor went to live and work in Pakistan for her first teaching engagement. Thereafter she decided to go, as a mature student, to the London School of Economics for a post graduate course in politics and shortly after joined the Foreign Office, in the research department where she stayed for four years which she enjoyed enormously. It was around this time Eleanor met Eric who would become her husband, marrying in Cheltenham and then travelling out to Papua New Guinea where Eric worked in the tea industry.
About a year later Eleanor realised married life didn’t suit her and decided to return home, greatly surprising her mother by calling from Victoria Coach Station to announce her return to England. Eleanor then returned to teaching Geography in London.
She retired at 61, allowing her to pursue her passion for travel. She visited all seven continents, met many different people and had many friends across the world. She also loved to visit her relatives in Canada and New Zealand, and made a point of staying in touch with all her cousins. Memorable trips included those to Bhutan and Antarctica, the latter in her 70s. She travelled there on a Russian ice breaker, and not being faint hearted took 'The Polar Plunge'. Apparently being the first woman to do so, she was awarded two vodkas for swimming in the icy waters...! She actually took the plunge twice, in both the arctic and antarctic and has the certificates and photographs to prove it!
Eleanor remained fit and active until the last four years of her life, when Parkinson's Disease hit her. Not being able to travel and go on her beloved long hikes, climbs up mountains and down dales was a cruel blow. She loved her bungalow but disliked being tied to it: always an independent person, she tried to defy her illness to the last, battling with her helpful carers over the dos and don'ts of life as dictated by her health, and the doctors orders.
A tribute page has been set-up here, from which much of the text for this obituary was taken: https://eleanorwill.muchloved.com/