Obituary: Tributes to 'kind-hearted' headmistress, 83, who made everyone a cuppa

A true leader: Mary Luh continued to inspire her pupils long after they left Suffield Park Infant and Nursery School

A true leader: Mary Luh continued to inspire her pupils long after they left Suffield Park Infant and Nursery School - Credit: SUPPLIED

Tributes have been paid to “a true leader” and former headteacher who made a cuppa for everyone who visited her north Norfolk school – including the refuse collectors. 

And despite retiring more than two decades ago, Mary Luh, who began working at Suffield Park Infant and Nursery School, Cromer, in the late-1970s, continued to inspire those who knew her. 

Vivienne Lennox, chairman of the governors at the Suffield Park Infant and Nursery School at Cromer,

Paying tribute: Dr Vivienne Lennox MBE, chair of the governors at Suffield Park Infant and Nursery School, Cromer, said Mary Luh will be "fondly remembered" - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

The school’s chair of governors, Dr Viv Lennox MBE, said: “Mary will always be fondly remembered at the school. 

“She continued to take a close interest in how we were getting on and really cared about the children and staff. She kept in touch with a number of staff and joined us for some of our special celebrations.” 

Born Mary Violet Luh on February 7, 1938, she was one of three sisters. 

She trained as a teacher in 1956 before gaining employment as a deputy head at Lakenham First School, Norwich. In 1977, she moved to Suffield Park on Mill Road and took on the role of headteacher. 

Funny times: Mary Luh was loved by pupils, parents, and teachers alike during her time as headteacher in Cromer

Funny times: Mary Luh was loved by pupils, parents, and teachers alike during her time as headteacher in Cromer - Credit: SUPPLIED

During her time there, she oversaw projects including the introduction of a conservation area, an adventure playground, and a learning support unit and nursery. 

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Highlights from some of her past pupils include memories of her dressing up as Enid Blyton’s Noddy for the day, her care and compassion towards all the children and particularly those who needed extra help and support, and making Christmas time extra special.   

She was also a former Brown Owl for 2nd Cromer Brownie Pack. 

Happy memories: A newspaper clipping from the North Norfolk News when Mary Luh retired as headteacher

Happy memories: A newspaper clipping from the North Norfolk News when Mary Luh retired as headteacher - Credit: ARCHANT

Following her passing earlier this month, social media has been flooded with messages of condolences via Facebook. 

Friend of 40 years, Kevin Abbs, managing director of Crayford and Abbs, said: “She was a natural leader, loved and respected by all, with a kind heart that she gave to everyone irrespective of background.   

“She will be sadly missed as she gave her wisdom so freely and especially over a coffee with chocolate biscuits.”   

Nicola Cushion, who began her career alongside Miss Luh 32 years ago, explained how she continued to demonstrate what it meant to be a “true leader”.

“Every child and adult who set foot in the school, she considered them a very important person, and everyone who came to the school got a cup of tea made,” she said. 

“Everyone felt welcome, she valued everyone. She had the whole community - the fishermen, dustmen, police, fire brigade, and parents - all feeling part of her community school. Everyone wanted to visit the school and help.  

The tapestry presented to Mary Luh as a retirement gift from colleagues at Suffield Park Infant and Nursery School

A parting gift: The tapestry presented to Mary Luh as a retirement gift from colleagues at Suffield Park Infant and Nursery School - Credit: Daniel Hambury

“I realised within seconds on my first day that I was in the presence of a great leader. 

"She became a lifelong friend and mentor. She was my inspiration and I still love teaching to this day. Mary taught me that.”  

Miss Luh lived with her parents before the family moved to Overstrand, where they remained until their deaths. 

To mark her retirement, 260 pupils, staff, and former pupils put on an event at the school where they sang, played music, and performed a puppet show of Peter and the Wolf.

Miss Luh was also given a tapestry embroidered with scenes from school life, including the adventure playground, its football team, and the school badge – a Cromer crab. 

Cromer Dolls House Club's 10th Birthday party. (Left to right) chair Mary Luh, founder members Bill and Barbara Kutnyj

It's the little things that count: Cromer Dolls House Club's 10th Birthday party. (Left to right) chair Mary Luh, founder members Bill and Barbara Kutnyj - Credit: Archant 2004

Her passions outside of work included being a member, and later chair, of the Dolls House Club, also attended by West Runton mammoth discoverer Margaret Hems.

She also enjoyed making and adding to her collection of dolls houses during her retirement. She loved gardening and dogs, which she had throughout her life.

Miss Luh died on February 5, 2022, aged 83. Her funeral is on February 23 at noon at Cromer Crematorium 

Donations in memory of Miss Luh can be sent to East Anglian Air Ambulance c/o Cromer and District Independent Funeral Services, 32 West Street, Cromer, Norfolk, NR27 9DS or online at www.cromeranddistrictfunerals.co.uk