Dr Sheila Edmonds

The following obituary first appeared in the December 2002 issue of the Orwell Bulletin

By Sue Miller and Diana Bennett

one of the old- style Cambridge dons

Dr. Sheila Edmonds was a familiar figure in Orwell for many years, walking between her home in Cross Lane Close and the Clunch pit to exercise her little ‘Lassie’–type sheepdog, Sirius, but probably few people here were aware of her illustrious career as a mathematician.  Her obituary in the Times describes her as ‘one of the old-style Cambridge dons who devoted their lives to teaching and their colleges. Her patience, thoroughness and encouragement set a generation of women on the path to careers in maths and related subjects.’ She played an important role in wartime in the breaking of the Enigma code at Bletchley Park as she was able to recommend particularly able and trustworthy first class graduates for work there.

she gained a first class degree in mathematics in 1938

Dr Edmond’s college was Newnham, where she gained a first class degree in mathematics in 1938. She moved to Orwell soon after retirement in 1981and lived here until two years ago when Alzheimer’s disease compelled her to into a nursing home where she died on September 2nd 2000. Though she had no living relatives there were 120 friends and colleagues at her college memorial. The following tribute by Mrs Diana Bennett  to her ‘treasured neighbour’ sums up Dr Edmonds wonderful personality perfectly:

she had the three 'H's - humanity, humility and humour

"Her great academic achievements have been honoured by others. I would like to record the love and appreciation that she earned from her old and new friends in Orwell. Three ‘H’s’ shone from her; - Humanity - she steadfastly believed the best of everybody. Humility – no trace of ‘side’, Humour – a huge sense of fun that led to lovely, robust peals of laughter that enlivened Cross Lane Close. Her sheltered, academic had left her innocent of such skills as cooking and we her close neighbours often did late night duty as advisors when a plate of raw fish or meat had proved too mysterious for her to convert into a supper. Her last joy was her beloved Sirius but dog care was also a mystery. However Mr and Mrs Humphreys came to the rescue here and she loved their company and support."


This page was added by Pat Grigor on 09/01/2013.

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