News from Britain

Margaret Davies (Miss Thomas)

Miss Margaret Thomas taught English and History at Ying Wa from 1967 to 1971.  Her students were mesmerized by her warm smile, and the flair and elegance with which she conducted her classes.  The Editors are very happy that Miss Thomas, now Mrs Davies, has kindly accepted our invitation to share with us her latest news in the article below.

On holiday in central Australia in 2017
Our garden in early summer 2020

What a strange year most of us had in 2020, tragic in some cases, sometimes controversial and, at the very least, unusual.  John and I were due to visit West Bengal last March for a trip up the Hooghly River from Kolkata.  That, of course, was cancelled, as was our great-niece’s wedding in Helsinki which had been arranged for July.  So we spent almost the entire year in London and rarely even went into the city centre.  That was quite a change for us.  Although our home is on the outskirts of London we frequently go into central London to visit concert halls, theatres, museums and art galleries but for much of 2020 they were closed and, anyway, even local travel in COVID times poses problems.  Fortunately modern communications make it easy to keep in touch with family and friends, even those living far away. 

In Britain in 2020 those of us lucky enough to have gardens certainly enjoyed them and, when there were restrictions on meeting people indoors, it was usually possible to meet outside in the garden.  We were also blessed with lovely spring and summer weather.  John and I explored our local parks and green spaces throughout the year and there social distancing was easy.

Walking in the English Lake District in the ’70s
Exploring Lesotho with John in the ’80s

From HK, back to Britain and beyond

Yet what a contrast all this was to our earlier life.  John and I had met in HK and married in 1972 after we had both returned to Britain.  Yung Wai Yee (’69), who was studying in London, did us the honour of being my bridesmaid.  We stayed in London for a couple of years before John, a civil engineer, was posted to New Zealand for 18 months and I joined him.  This was followed by four years or so in northern England, where we lived very close to the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, lovely parts of the country.  Then in 1979 John was posted to Lesotho, a small but beautiful country in southern Africa, and we lived there until our permanent return to Britain in 1987.  Thereafter John had a number of shorter assignments around the world and sometimes I was able to join him if they coincided with my holidays.

I taught, with pleasure, in most of the places where we lived, including at a girls’ boarding school in Cumbria, a new international school in Lesotho and, finally, a large independent girls’ day school in north London.  When we lived in northern England I also helped to organise volunteers who went into the homes of non-English speaking immigrants to practise English with them.  Usually these were Muslim women from Pakistan or India and they were frequently keen to take advantage of the relative freedom that mastery of English might give them.

The school in Lesotho was co-educational and was intended to provide a secondary education for the children of expatriates as well as for some of the local Basotho.  Although the school was quite small it contained about 30 nationalities, the Basotho being the largest single group.  We followed British and international examination systems but our pupils also took American SAT tests.

Great to keep in touch

John and I never lost our taste for travel and we appreciated the opportunity to meet former YWGS students and colleagues in various parts of the world.  I look back on my time at YWGS with great pleasure and have always enjoyed maintaining contacts with former pupils even if we cannot meet in person.  Long distance journeys are probably over for John and me now but let us all hope that we can look forward to a happier 2021 and John and I wish YWGS with its exciting new campus all the best for the future.

December 2020