Dorothy Ann Thomas (1909–1977) Obituary
Many Old Chiltonian’s will learn with great sadness that ‘Dolly’ died on the 1st September 1977 after a very short illness—so short that most of us found it hard to believe for some time that she was no longer with us. She was buried in the churchyard at Chilton Cantelo within sight and sound of the community she had served so well and faithfully for so long. The large number of people who came to her funeral was eloquent evidence of the very wide circle of friends that Dolly had made, not only in the Yeovil area, but even further afield.
Dolly came to England from St. Helena early in 1961 and after a short stay of a couple of months in Dorset she came to Chilton early in that same year and for the next seventeen years Chilton was her entire life. For those who arrived late on a train or had missed supper for an ‘exped’ or sailing, Dolly was always there to fry an egg or warm up a supper. Up by 6 o’clock every morning from habit she always had the kettles on and the kitchen warmed up by the time that the staff arrived to cook the breakfast. Dorothy Ann Thomas. Beyond all this she had a truly remarkable memory for events which she never needed to commit to paper. If it was a question of finding out when we laid a floor, when we installed something new in the kitchen, Dolly would always immediately know the day, year, month (and sometimes the minute) without referring to any diary.
For those who had an opportunity of talking to Dolly when she was in a reminiscent mood her stories about life on St. Helena were of great interest and though her parents covered a span of many years into an era and a way of life and of hardship long since forgotten and probably never recorded.
Her sense of humour was at times too much for some people and not infrequently her aside would be, “I’ve got my ticket to St. Helena and I shan’t be here next term.” Only after she died did we learn that it had been her intention ultimately to return to the island and she had even gone as far as to buy a ticket the previous year but,in the end, could not bring herself to leave Chilton.
At her funeral one person was heard to say “Chilton will never be the same without her.” I am sure that would have been the epitaph she would have liked and it is true when someone has given as much as Dolly in her total involvement with the school and the family.
H. Cotes-James. Founder Chilton Cantelo House School. Reprinted from the ‘Thoroughfare’ magazine 1978.