Wendy Taylor

Wendy and her husband, Peter, married in All Saints’ Church, and came to live in Church Lane fifty years ago. Originally from Sonning Common where her grandparents had settled in the 1920’s, Wendy attended Highlands School in the late 40’s/early 50’s. Sadly the school closed in 1993.

It was a liberal school with a broad-based curriculum and the motto I am, I can, I ought, I will; Wendy is a living embodiment of that ethos. She feels her whole education, with its firm foundation at Highlands School, was the greatest formative influence of her life.

Wendy still has a treasured collection of her notebooks, particularly her nature notebook with beautiful drawings of wild flowers, observations and poetry. A feature of the school was the frequent nature walks on Peppard Common. There were also lessons in Picture Study which have influenced her ever since: the children studied a painting, then described and drew it. From this Wendy developed a huge interest in drawing and painting reinforced by a very genuine talent. Indeed drawing and painting play a large part in Wendy’s life even today.

From there, Wendy went on to St. Joseph’s Convent in Reading. It was a big adventure to go off on the bus to Reading. It was there that Wendy had to make a choice between her strong leanings towards the Arts to study Sciences. It was those nature walks that engendered an interest in botany and eventually she chose Zoology and Botany as her degree subjects when she was accepted at the University of Bristol.

At St. Joseph’s she studied Biology, and during her sixth form she assisted in teaching the younger pupils. This set her future course for her life in teaching.

Another favoured subject was Spanish, and from those early days studying at St. Joseph’s, along with a school trip to Madrid during Holy Week, came a lifelong love affair with Spain. After graduation Wendy joined the teaching staff at St. Joseph’s where she became friends with the Spanish teacher, who encouraged her to teach evening classes in Spanish at Chiltern Edge. This teacher eventually retired to Spain but, many years later, Wendy managed to track her down and they remained friends. For a short time, she also taught Biology at Gillotts School.

A student at Bristol just before the 1960’s social revolution and although not involved in politics, Wendy clearly remembers the Bay of Pigs crisis in 1961. She grew up in the rock and roll era, but she loved jazz in all its guises. Whilst there she maintained her interest in drawing and painting and kept up with her Spanish.

Wendy and Peter have a son and daughter who both went to Peppard Primary School. They are both now married and each have two children. Her son lives nearby and her daughter lives in Yorkshire. Wendy was a school governor for 10 years, and also a member of FOPS.

Although she loved teaching, she decided to retire early and after many years of visiting Spain she and Peter bought an old village house on the southern coast in Almeria. It was a roofless ruin and they set-to to completely renovate it and turn it into a family getaway. Gluttons for punishment, after a few happy years there they sold it and repeated the process, renovating an old abandoned cortijo (farm building) surrounded by plenty of land in the sierras north of Seville. A local farmer used the land for his sheep, pigs and chickens, and in return Wendy and Peter enjoyed the benefits of fruit and olive trees. It was a wonderful experience of Spanish rural life and traditions. The time eventually came when the travel and upkeep of the property became too much, and with much sadness, they sold it but they still return to Spain to visit friends.

Since childhood Wendy has been a member of the congregation of All Saints’ Church and carries out various duties there. She has also been involved with the Peppard Revels since it’s inauguration.

Her great interest in botany manifests itself in her painting; she also enjoys painting animal portraits and local scenes.

Wendy believes that her early education had the biggest influence on every aspect of her life, and it was where she formed her lifelong love of the natural world, art and Spain.

 

Rita Hadgkiss