Former school headmistress dies aged 89
Published Date: 28 May 2009 (Scarborough Evening News)
By James Hanley
THE last headmistress of the Scarborough Girls' High School has died at the age of 89.  World traveller Hilda Briggs, formerly of Esplanade, became renowned for her fundraising stunts in later life.

Four years ago, when aged 85, the daredevil pensioner parachuted out of a plane to raise money for Age Concern after being inspired by an article in the Evening News entitled "Young jump for the old".  It was not the first time Miss Briggs had taken on a challenge for charity. To celebrate turning 80 she abseiled down the side of the Grand Hotel.

One of her nephews, Peter Briggs, 61, who lives in Majorca, said: "She was an amazing person, there's no other way of putting it. She did all the things in life that anybody could want to do and had a wonderful time doing it."

He added: "She was known as 'auntie' by so many people, not just her own family. She seemed to collect family all over the place!"

Born in Southport, Miss Briggs was educated at a boarding school while her parents worked in China and then studied English at Manchester Univer- sity. After training as a teacher she worked at schools in Cheshire, Manchester, Uttoxeter, Lyme Regis and Batley, taking up her first headship at Batley Girls Grammar School prior to moving to Scarborough to take over the reins at Scarborough Girls' High School.

It closed in 1973 when the town's schools became entirely comprehensive and Miss Briggs moved with many of her staff and pupils to merge with the former boys' high school to form Graham School.

A position as chairman of the International Committee of Headmistresses Association gave Miss Briggs the opportunity to be the group's representative at world conferences and that, coupled with her attendance at a number of international Soroptomist conferences, gave her a taste for travelling.

Following her retirement in 1978 she visited countries including America, India, China, Japan, Russia, Turkey, the West Indies, Hawaii, South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand and went to the North and South Poles.

In an interview with the Evening News in 2005 she said: "My favourite place was the Antarctic. It is wonderful because it is totally unspoilt. You are not allowed to take anything ashore, not a toffee, and you are not allowed to take anything back with you. Long may it remain so."

She was a former chairman of the CVS and a trustee of St Mary's Social Action Centre, treasurer at South Cliff Methodist Church, vice-president of the Amicable Society and was involved in the Scarborough United Scholarship Fund.

She also worked at the St Catherine's shop in Ramshill and won a Yorkshire Woman of Achievement Award in 1997 for her work in the community.

Miss Briggs, who had no children, had nephews Mike, Peter and Steven, and nieces Ann, Jane and the late Sue.

A thanksgiving service will be held at South Cliff Methodist Church tomorrow at 2.30pm.