Joan Clanchy Condolence Messages

North London Collegiate School has set up this page to display online messages we have received following the death of Joan Clanchy, former NLCS Headmistress from 1986-1997

This page will be updated on an ongoing basis. If you would like to leave a message please complete this online form.

As Head of the Junior School from 1989 to 1996 I was fortunate enough to have worked with Joan Clanchy for the whole of those seven years.  I was always grateful to her for my appointment, thus enabling me to come back to the school I loved and which gave me such a wonderful education.
Joan was supportive and encouraging as we sought to expand the Junior School and establish the First School, and her interest in the younger members of the school never waned.  She will always be remembered by all the staff and girls who knew her.

Elizabeth Parkinson, ONL & Head of Junior School 1989 - 1996

I’ll never forget meeting Mrs. Clanchy at my year 7 interview. She made me feel so special and welcome and that feeling continued every time I saw her, until her last day when I was in year 9. Very grateful to have known such a wonderful head and may her family fund some comfort in the legacy she has not only left them, but also hundreds and hundreds of students across the years. 

Ishwarya Bavishi nee Raghuveer, ONL 2001 

Mrs Clanchy was a truly wonderful headmistress. She did not simply focus on academic achievement. She was more interested in the girls having an all-round education and encouraging us to get involved in many extracurricular activities. Many doors were opened for me as a result of this. She gave wonderful assemblies. She took the time to teach us in small groups in year 9. She was very encouraging to girls of all different religions and cultural backgrounds.

Sophie Newman, ONL 

I am devastated to read of Mrs Clanchy’s death. She was an absolutely wonderful headmistress during my time at the school from 1991 to 1997 (I remember how upset I was that she left in my last year!) She really set the tone for the school - high (but not pushy!) expectations and a belief that you were good enough. She inspired us all and left a wonderful legacy. God bless you. 

Farrah Gillani, ONL

So sorry to hear of Joan/Mrs Clanchy’s death.  She became headmistress after I left, but I got to know her well as I was secretary of ONLA for a few years.  She persuaded me to become a trustee of the Doris Gregory Trust on the grounds that I would halve the average age of the trustees (her words, not mine); 25 years later I’m the longest-serving Doris Gregory Trustee and still love having that connection with NLCS - all thanks to Joan. My other fond memory is that in the late 90s I bought her car (a red N reg Micra) and I recall her horror on discovering that I was still driving it 10 years later. A wonderful, kind, funny and inspiring woman.  Prayers and sympathy for her family.

Rachel Phillips, ONL

As one of the youngest girls at the school, I was chosen to give flowers to Princess Alice with Mrs Clanchy at the opening of the Junior school building. I don’t think we crossed paths after that until I was called to her office and given a detention (unheard of) for making prank phone calls... I was terrified but she was kind though firm. Following this, I was pleasantly touched when passing her on the stairway having received my unexpectedly high GCSE results, she stopped me to congratulate me proudly. Enough to make anyone pretty pleased with themselves! 
Mrs Clanchy was formidable, awe inspiring and a true leader -  helping to make ONLS of her time what we are today. I will always remember her and her kilts fondly. Sending best wishes to her family. 

Lynsey Taylor, ONL

I can picture Mrs Clanchy's swooping letters at the front of all of my school reports - to this day I think I would recognise her handwriting! She never wrote much but her words always carried great weight with me.

Lauren Mytton née Green, ONL

Whilst I only met her once - it changed my life for the better. Her decision to warmly accept me into the NLCS community was pivotal in who I've become today. It was the first interview of my life, and needless to say I was nervous.

Yet she made this awkward 10 year old feel comfortable enough to open up. I'm grateful for the chance she gave me, and feel blessed to have met Mrs Clanchy.

Sarah Rose Perry (née Rogers), ONL

A memory of Mrs Clanchy that has stayed with me through my adult life is of an assembly she gave to us in the Junior School. The topic was the use of word stress in a sentence. She used the example 'I didn't steal my Grandmother's chocolate cake'. Each time she spoke the sentence, she stressed a different word, pointing out how the meaning changed with each alteration. As a young student, this was a revelation!

As a resident of NW London, we would also take the school bus to NLCS each day. To get to the bus stop, we would drive past Mrs Clanchy's house. Every day we would look to see if we could see her, and wave with great enthusiasm if she happened to be leaving at the same time. She didn't seem to mind!

Hester Goodsell, ONL

Mrs Clancy made sure that all girls no matter what background they came from, were respectful of each other. She made sure that , our daughter could continue her studies comfortably and was well looked after, during our stay overseas for work. May Mrs Clanchy’s soul rest in peace. Om Shanti Shanti Om.🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼💕💕💕

Bhanu Ramesh, former parent

Mrs Clanchy was one of a kind. She was a fantastic headmistress who earned the respect of every single pupil. She personally championed me throughout my time at NLCS and she believed in me when others didn’t. Sending love to her family at this sad time

Emma Benjamin, ONL

On behalf of the South West branch of the ONLA we send our sincere condolences on the death of Joan Clanchy. All members of our group would have left NLCS before she became headmistress so did not know her well however we are all saddened when we lose someone from the NLCS community.

Jane Fountain, ONL, ONL and coordinator of the SWONLA group

It was with very deep sadness that I learned last weekend of the passing of Joan Clanchy. She was a remarkable woman and I am grateful that I knew her and worked with her. She always closely associated herself with the Junior School, coming once a week to take an assembly. No one who was there for these times will forget them, whether the subject was the cornflake in the cereal box, the way it made all the difference how you spoke the words "Is that Grannie's chocolate cake?" or my own favourite, the story of seeing the silent delight of an adult pick up a newly fallen conker on his way to the car park. These assemblies were thought though as she left her own room, walked the lengthy top corridor of the Senior School and down a flight of stairs to the Junior School. Her Thought for the Day lasted no longer than a few minutes, but stayed with us for always, as recounting them now does for me.

The other aspect of her headship which remains with me was that it was well nigh impossible to anticipate what her view on any matter might be. Never more so that in her own beautifully worded tribute to Bernice McCabe recently. Mrs Clanchy had the most direct look of anyone: not hostile, but not warm either, simply a look which showed she was weighing up the comment she had heard and working out her response. It could be disarming but it was pure Clanchy.

I am enormously fond of the portrait painted of her when she retired and which hangs in the Senior School. Here is a working woman with a notepad on her lap, the Big Cedar in the background and that strong questioning look on her face. We are all so much poorer that Joan Clanchy is no longer with us, but I count it a privilege that I have these memories to cherish.

Jenny Whines, Junior School staff

Our daughter and all the girls loved Mrs Clanchy. Condolences to her husband and all her family. She will be fondly remembered by so many.

Jonathan Hoffman, former parent

We met Mrs Clanchy in 1990 when our daughter Dharmina R Shah joined the School. She was a strong Community leader and she made sure girls from low income families also had an opportunity to benefit from joining NLCS and become good citizens of UK. We pray God rests her Soul in Eternal peace. As we say in Hindi Om Shanti Om shanti Om Shanti .

Rameshchandra KD Shah, former parent

So sad to hear the news. I knew Joan through Oxfordshire Schools Chess, where she did so much with St Mary & St John CE Primary in Oxford, and was so selfless in the time she gave to others. She will be hugely missed by all of us.

John Place, former colleague

As a true "Clanchy girl" (having joined the school just before she did and leaving with her at the end of Year 13), I only remember the school under her leadership. And how lucky I was to have that honour. She was a real leader, inspiring both fear and adoration in equal measures in all the girls. But that didn't mean she kept herself aloof, or had a remote role in the life of the school. She was ever present, speaking to us regularly in assemblies, attending every concert, every performance, every play. She shared a clear vision for the school, but also for our futures, speaking honestly and drawing from her personal experience and beliefs. She shared with all of us the impossibility of "having it all" as women, but encouraged us to strive and fight for it nonetheless. The James Bond themed Canons Follies of 1997 finished with a heartfelt rendition of "Nobody Does it Better" directed at Mrs Clanchy. We were right. She truly was "the Best".

Vanessa Naish, ONL

I adored her. She was so enthusiastic, visionary and full of ideas. If they didn't work, she'd simply say 'well, lets try something else'. She was prepared to listen to other peoples ideas. I remember once she sat next to me and two others in the staff room and said 'I don't know what to do, we have too many year 7's next year. Do we have 4 classes of 29 or 5 classes of 23? We were quick to say '5 classes' and that is what we had. She also was adept at making it seem that the processes was democratic while having her own way. On the discussion of the end of the spring term we had a piece of paper in the staff room for us to vote for options. At the staff meeting she said 'If you combine those that want to break up on Friday and those that want to break up on Founders Day then we should have founders day on Friday and break up then. Was it only me that noticed it was the least popular option?

She was so approachable. We could pop our heads around her door at any time for any matter, important or trivial. Once I asked her what the first line was in the addrress to a haggis so I could look it up.

No other head mistress has encouraged this sort of access. When I was Head of Biology we were short staffed for some time due to staff illness. She taught the 'health' lesson to the U!! herself for a term. Howerver I was not too impressed when she said she told them that the tummy button was due to God testing that all his clay figures were set by poking them!

Staff meetings were FUN! We bounced ideas around, two outspoken members of staff always created sparks, we argued, and she still kept control while encouraging it all. Not only did she know all our names, but the names of our spouses, children, how far we commuted and so on. She still remembered when I met her at the Book Launch years later! Here time in office was all too short.

Ruth Betts, staff

In year 7 I was the one at the front I watched you cry for the orphans and you are my inspiration like Esther I hope your wishes and dreams to save all the children happens I’m trying it too Thank you for teaching and showing Empathy I’m a woman in STEM - you made that happen

Waheeda Samji, student

I first met Joan Clanchy at a Sixties Reunion evening at school when she "recruited" me to assist in organising a year specific reunion for 1972 leavers. When the reunion eventually took place in 1992, Joan attended and addressed a bemused crowd - "headmistresses were never like this in our day"! She had prepared by reading our 100 words newsletter and her speech of welcome was warm, witty and very wise. "I see some of you are on your second or even third degree .... I have only this to say (pause) .... why? Well done but one would be enough!" The organisers tried and failed, to group seventy ONLs together for a photograph. Someone asked Joan for assistance. She clapped her hands and boomed over the hubbub. Two minutes later ... photograph!

I met her many times after that day and never failed to be charmed by the warmth and kindness of her personality and impressed by the wide variety of her knowledge and interests. She introduced me to the fritillary fields at Magdalen College and I have visited there annually, ever since. I so wanted her to like me and I think, I hope, that she did.

When Joan retired, ONLA gave a tea in her honour and presented her with a Georgina von Etzdorf scarf (as requested!) which she is wearing in the photograph. RIP lovely lady.

Jane Cole, ONL

I will always remember Mrs Clanchy as the most wonderful Head Mistress. She was much revered by pupils, staff and parents alike and just knowing that she was somewhere in the Old House was enough to make us tremble (NO RUNNING GIRLS!) She made her presence felt wherever she went and commanded respect whilst never once raising her voice. I am sure that my huge enjoyment of my years at NLCS was, for the most part, down to the way she ran the school. Sending much love and support to her family.

Melanie Levy (née Carlton)

Mrs Clanchy was my headmistress from 1988 (when I joined) until 1997 (when she left). She was a truly inspirational but also deeply humane head teacher. Two of her assemblies have really stayed with me. One was her brilliantly dynamic retelling of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The other was a lesson on emphasis through the sentence: 'I didn't eat grandmother's chocolate cake'. Please pass on my condolences to her children and their families.

Tamara Atkin, ONL

I was still in the Junior School when Mrs Clanchy left her position as Headmistress so while I didn’t know her personally I had the good fortune of hearing her speak on occasion. She was so clearly in love with what she did that her passion shone through her and I fondly recall her assemblies in the Junior School and the impact her words had on me. “I didn’t eat grandma’s chocolate cake” is one assembly that stays with me to this day.

Shefali Maher, ONL

Mrs Clanchy was an extraordinary woman. She was kind, elegant and wise. She went out of her way to take care of each and every one of us at school, and even after we had left. I will never forget her seeing me in my first year at university and shortly after my father had died. She said she wanted to know how I was as she knew the staff were taking care of my sister (who was still at school) but she wanted to check someone was taking care of me. She was a role model to us all. A light has gone out in the world now that she has left it. Sending heartfelt condolences to her family.

Gabrielle Gower, ONL and current parent

I shall be forever grateful to Joan Clanchy for launching my 25 year career in teaching at NLCS. In 1987 I was a mature PGCE student opting for a career change after several years working in industry. I wrote letters to a few schools asking if they had need of Physics teacher. The ink can barely have been dry before I had a phonecall asking me to come to NLCS for an interview with Mrs Clanchy. As an ONL (1968) I had been a student under Dame Kitty and Madeline McLauchlan but had never met Mrs Clanchy. She made an immediate impression – “Welcome, do sit down, you are an ONL who wants to teach Physics, SPLENDID! (one of her favourite words), when can you start? Would you like a cup of tea?” And that was it, interview over and the beginning of a new 25 year career progressing from part time Physics teacher to Head of Science and in 1999, under Bernice McCabe, Deputy Head. Joan had retired two years earlier but still took the time to send me a card of congratulations in which she wrote “…..Do remember that it is your duty to be as happy and cheerful as is humanly possible and to go round spreading the feel-good factor”…….”Enjoy yourself every day and no heroics about pushing yourself to exhaustion or any such nonsense”. A wise philosophy which she had demonstrated admirably and which I endeavoured to emulate.

It was a pleasure and a privilege to work for Joan Clanchy, she was always a striking presence around school, dynamic, prepared to listen, determined to get the best from staff and girls, witty and engaging. I last met her in September 2019 when she spoke at Ann Thomas' memorial at NLCS, although physically frail she had lost none of her wit and sparkle – she was indeed a remarkable woman and an inspiring role model.

Barbara Pomeroy, ONL (1968), former staff (retired 2012)

When I read Sarah Clark’s letter announcing the death of Joan Clanchy, I realised just how much change had been brought about during those Clanchy years and it led me to reflect on my own good fortune in working closely during that time.
Always with the emphasis on making schooling at North London, a very positive experience for all, Joan restructured the sixth form, dissolved the rather old fashioned prefect system and introduced celebrations at various stages in school life which continue today.
The details of these developments will, I’m sure, be well documented in any formal obituary  alongside the changes in facilities which Joan oversaw.
For me she was a powerful and commanding presence, a fine looking woman who towered above most of us, both physically and mentally. She was full of ideas and had the energy to execute them. I think she went home each evening to her vegetable chopping and bread making, activities which she said “loosened up her mind” so that the following day began with a flurry of new projects to be considered.
I loved and respected Joan and feel very fortunate to have worked closely with her. I look back on those years as the most exciting and challenging of my teaching career.

Joan Lundie, ONL, former parent, former staff

My first encounter of Mrs Clanchy was after one of her renowned Junior School assemblies when I was pulled out of the line by Mrs Jones, our geography teacher, to recite to Mrs Clanchy a weather poem I had shared in class that week. Having a Scottish mother had lead me to share a Scottish verse and Mrs Jones had thought Mrs Clanchy would find it interesting. I remember trembling as I did my best not to stumble over the words. As a nervous 1st year (year 3) girl Mrs Clanchy’s statuesque height was certainly intimidating and that moment has stuck with me. 

She was a proud Scot and her legendary recitals of Burns’ poems in assemblies have been mentioned by many people. I felt a connection to her as I understood the importance of these poems, as I enjoyed celebrating my Scottish heritage too. 

I had the honour of being Senior Student in Mrs Clanchy’s final term, before she left North London. We had regular meetings and I felt privileged to have been afforded such an audience with this wonderful lady. The school gifted her a bicycle as she left and I had the pleasure of handing it over to her. I still have the hand written thank you note she sent in return. 

Johanne Hutchison (née Walton), ONL

Mrs. Clanchy epitomised the ethos of NLCS  that I  grew up with. As a child and teacher, the words "From those to whom much is given, much is expected " echo through my life, even when I fall short. Mrs Clanchy said "Play to your strengths"  We don't need to excel at everything, relieving the stress of being surrounded by outstandingly talented fellow students and teachers. I often pass those words on .
   She would write notes of thanks. She noticed the flower arrangements I produced to decorate the Drawing  School, and asked me to decorate the stage for Harvest Festival, and sometimes Founder's Day. Her encouragement inspired me. It still does.
 She was a keen visitor to  Founder's  Day  Exhibitions at the Drawing School and happy to accept the model of the Old House commissioned by the Parents Guild and made by my husband Earl Hyde.
Later asking us to produce other items including mugs commemorating the New Junior school.
We shared a love of outdoor swimming. Also of the beautiful grounds. Her compassion and understanding of mental stress was ahead of its time .She was OPEN but discreet,  approachable and refreshingly easy to talk to  She had a wonderful sense of humour. I still smile at some of the comments and asides she made! 
  Having been a pupil under Dame Kitty's headship, I taught under THREE  headmistresses.
 It was a huge privilege and pleasure to serve under Mrs Clanchy.

Susan Bennett, ONL 1950-1961  Art Staff  1987-2000

It was Mrs Clanchy who first got me involved with ONLA nearly 30 years ago which has brought much joy and friendship to me for all those years so thank you. 

Susan Lipman, ONLA

Very fond memories of a truly inspirational headmistress and role model. To hear her speak was to remember her words which we all still repeat today. She will not be forgotten by the Lipman family. 

Susan and Ian Lipman, ONL and parents of 4 ONLs

Mrs Clanchy was not only incredibly inspiring but also took the time to get to know every single girl in the school. She was wonderful. I’m so proud to be a ‘Clanchy girl’.

Rachel Hudson Field, ONL

A wonderful headmistress and teacher, Mrs Clanchy was a true inspiration. She seemed to know us as individuals, was interested and supportive of our initiatives, and maintained an aura of authority whilst inviting us to question dogma and forge our own beliefs.

Hayley Spurling, ONL

Even If I never met Mrs Clanchy, I feel saddened by her passing, but maybe she is still out there, smiling in the stars and dancing in the waves, watching NLCS. Mrs Clanchy will always be held in high esteem.

Amber Wang, Year 3

I remember Mrs Clanchy giving me a lift to school once when our car broke down. We lived nearby and she was kind enough to help out. I was mortified, as a young teenager would be, getting a lift in my headmistress's car, but she was so bright and breezy about it. It's something that's stuck with me.

Emily Asquith, ONL

Mrs. Clanchy was a towering figure - both literally and metaphorically. I was lucky enough to have her as my headmistress from the start of my school career, almost through to its end. She was the perfect balance of kind yet commanding, open yet authoritative. She effortlessly commended respect and I will never forget the thrill of being noticed by her - she did indeed know all of us by name and seemed to know all about us. I felt known by her whenever I was lucky enough to have a personal encounter with her. 
I always felt that she inspired and motivated me both as an individual and as part of the school community. For me, she somehow embodied the essence of what it meant to be an NLCS girl - interested, intelligent, kind, compassionate and hard working. Her interest in education and her deep knowledge and wisdom on the subject were of lasting benefit to all those who had the privilege of studying under her care. She will be deeply missed. 

Virginia Gilbert, ONL

I was exceptionally saddened by the news of Mrs. Clanchy passing.  I have strong memories of her being so glamorous, eloquent, with strong convictions yet also being personable, always asking about how, not just how I was, but my brother too who is deaf.  To her family, I am so sorry for their loss. 

Nicky Bloom, (née Raperport), ONL

I was very sorry to hear of Mrs Clanchy’s death. She was my headmistress for only two and a half years from when she arrived in 1986 until I left in 1988 but the impression she made on me has lasted. She was absurdly well suited to being the head of NLCS. She was both an obvious natural leader and an intellectual. She was conscientious, industrious and excellent at detail (all those names!) but also relaxed, warm and generous. She was highly gifted with words (of course, her daughter is a poet!) and also an attentive listener. She was extremely witty but also laughed easily at other people’s jokes. She noticed things about everybody in a way that verged on the intuitive. She was tall, stylish, and strikingly handsome. She wore shirts with enormous floppy bows and long skirts like a suffragette. She had infectious enthusiasms - I remember her in assembly extolling the beauty of Canons, the genius of Jacqueline du Pré, ‘Rejoice in the Lamb’ by Benjamin Britten and Christopher Smart. She was never, ever boring. She was brave, a feminist, forward-thinking. She was very concerned about the environment long before this became fashionable. And when she arrived, she dismissed some of the less competent members of staff, put an end to the scrappy themed classroom displays we used to make for Founder’s Day, and abolished Domestic Science and Needlework lessons. She often made startling remarks both in assembly and in class (she gave the Sixth Form the occasional lesson). I remember her saying that newspapers didn’t report news but instead created news and that they were making most of their sales on the back of paedophilia which was ‘the last taboo’. She was immensely kind to me on more than one occasion. I remember her so well in part because my mother had died in 1984 and I was thirsty for female role models. I have never met a better one and although I haven’t seen her for over twenty years, I grieve her death. 

Juliet Manzini (née Ireland), ONL

I  was coming to the end of a five-year contract at Q.E.girls, Barnet when out of the blue I received a letter from Mrs Clanchy asking me to come and see her at school to discuss a part-time Classics post. On my arrival, she took me into her office and immediately started a most interesting conversation about the lately deceased, John Smith, and the loss of hope that came with his death. She then asked me whether I drove a car and was delighted that I didn't as the school was becoming choked with traffic. She then explained her frustration that so many staff were intent on complaining about the quality of school lunches which were a generous gift of the school. A bell rang and she had to excuse herself to attend a lesson .' Thank you for coming,' she said. 'I look forward to seeing you in September.' Compare and contrast with interviews today! She was always amazing, warmly welcoming and a total delight to work with in school. Her beautiful portrait in the entrance Hall really captures her spirit and essence and her love for NLCS.

Leon A.Perdoni, former staff

Ruth Salter will be 90 in the summer and so her tribute is from a rather unusual angle. It was sent to me and I have her permission to forward it to school.
Ruth writes ‘ the last time that I actually met Joan in person was when she invited me to lunch when my granddaughter was at Oxford Brooks and I was going to visit her when I arrived, Kate's twins, who lived just a few doors away, were toddling around Joan’s garden. I think she looked after them nearly every morning for a few hours so that Kate could do some work. We picked up one twin each ( heavy I remember)  and carried them back to their mother. Then Joan and I sat at the kitchen table and enjoyed a lovely homemade fish pie.
I remember all this because she was a truly good homely friend and grandmother as well as an exceptionally highly respected ex headmistress of a very special school’

Joan Lundie, on behalf of Ruth Salter, retired staff

Joan Clanchy was a great supporter and appreciator of Art projects, welcoming the changing displays of work into the main building; the  Christmas  'Stained Glass'  in the Assembly  Hall's great window,  other seasonal murals in the arched niches at the Hall entrance and in corridors , dining room and in the case of enduring media, outdoor walls.     The theme of one of these, The' Wild Life' ceramic mural ,the work of the middle school  was   close to her heart and she was delighted to learn that David Attenborough  had agreed to unveil it ....a memorable summer evening
Whatever projects and events  the art department contributed to ....set designs and constructions, costumes, the design of the school magazine,  programmes, invitations and so on  Joan Clanchy recognised their importance as part of the art curriculum and  always singled out specific elements for notice and praise,and sent notes to the staff involved,.
 individually or collectively,...not just  formal  thanks but  warm, perceptive, selective appreciation.  On Founder's Day and the Open Day which followed it, when the Art Block transformed into a gallery  milling with parents, ONLs , et al. Joan and her husband spent much time , .... and were,  as always, such good company.

Robina Barson, former staff, Head of Art 1988-98

Seen from a Governor's angle, Joan was a wonderful head.  She clearly knew the girls personally, had thoroughly practical ideas for school developments, and yet was always conscious of the ways that new initiatives would impact on fees and hence of their affordability for less well-off parents. She did much to make us, governors, feel an integral part of school life.  Under her aegis NLCS maintained the highest academic standards while combining work with plenty of fun.

Diana Phillips, former Governor

My two daughters were at NLCS and were extremely happy there. I went through a traumatic divorce and Mrs Clanchybwas both respectful and helpful at all times. She was an amazing headmistress and influence to all the pupils, staff and families and it was a privilege to have known her. My respects to all her family as she was so special .

Corinne Ruck, former parent

I was so saddened to hear about the passing of Mrs Clanchy. I was part of her first senior school intake and so she was the only headmistress I knew at NLCS. I will always remember her as being quite scary and her height and poise made her appear very formidable especially to someone in the Upper Third! When I think back Mrs Clanchy never seemed to ever have a down day as she was always so enthusiastic and upbeat especially as she strode into the assembly. Being in her school made one believe that anything was possible. Thinking of her family at what must be such a difficult and unhappy time. 

Emma Duke née Proops, ONL 1993