“Dear Oxford High, I came across this book on a shelf in my parents’ house. My lovely great Aunt Dorothy died many years ago. She lived in North Oxford all her life and after losing her young man in the First World War devoted her life to looking after her parents. She was a true eccentric. A learned and well loved character. I know she very much enjoyed her time at Oxford High School.I remember her as a positive joyous spirit and great raconteur who revelled in people and the life of Oxford. A real credit to Oxford High. Kind regards – Sophie (née May)”
Dorothy May was born in 1897 and attended Oxford High from 1906-1914. During 1912-1913, she drove herself and her brother Wilfred to school from Cumnor in a pony and trap, which were placed at the Royal Oak in the Woodstock road at livery for the day. Wilfred went to the Dragon School. In 1914 she went to finishing school in Switzerland but returned promptly at the outbreak of the First World War . At aged 17 and safely home, she quickly enrolled as a VAD (a Voluntary Aid Detachment) nurse and nursed in both France and England.
During the 1939-45 war, she stayed on the family farm at Bradley, Cumnor where she really came into her own as food production became central to the war effort. Conscientious Objectors were sent to the farm to labour and Dorothy ran the entire farm managing all the staff plus two hundred hens, and feeding and housing Italian and German prisoners of war.
After the war in 1948, she moved to 19 Upland Park Road where – as tenacious and enthusiastic as ever – she joined local churches and played the piano, harmonium and organ for services happily (but “excruciatingly” … Sophie’s father states in his memoir!). She travelled widely during her life, visiting Haiti during her 70’s for example.
She was a remarkable woman. She died in March 1986, aged 91, a great enthusiast and free spirit and a real credit to Oxford High School.