Tributes paid to dyslexia learning pioneer who co-founded Staffordshire school
Tributes are being paid at a specialist school near Lichfield after the death of its co-founder.
Brenda Brown, who helped start Maple Hall Hayes which deals with specific learning difficulties or dyslexia, died on Sunday at the age of 88 and was the driving force behind the school's success, dedicating her life to empowering dyslexic children with her husband Dr Neville Brown.
The couple met whilst at a dance at Nelson Hall Training College, Staffordshire, where Brenda was training to be a domestic science teacher. Their first teaching post was together at Willenhall Comprehensive School. She later became head of department in John Wilmott Grammar School and then at Marsh Hill Grammar Technical School.
Inspired by Neville’s research on dyslexic children's challenges and the national shortcomings of early literacy teaching, the couple embarked on a journey that led to the development of a ground-breaking system using morphemes – a way for pupils to understand word structure and meaning through ‘Icons’.
In 1982, fuelled by their commitment to education, the Browns invested their life savings to establish Maple Hayes Dyslexia School in Abnalls Lane.
The school has supported over 1,000 pupils to read and fulfil their potential, giving them literacy skills, confidence and a sense of belonging, alongside getting a secondary education.
Mrs Brown was a councillor for both Lichfield City and District Council and stood proudly by her husband during his tenure as mayor of Lichfield in 1980 and as Sheriff of Lichfield in 2011.
Doctor Brown's accolades included the ITV's Midlands Teacher of the Year award in 2008 and a runner-up award in The Times Sternberg Active Life Award in 2016.
The couple were married for 66 years and Mrs Brown is also survived by their two sons, Dr Daryl Brown and Adrian, and grandchildren Alastair and Imogen.
Daryl, who is a co-principal of the school said: "We as a family are deeply saddened by the loss and we know this grief is shared by the many people who knew her and supported throughout her life.
"She was an inspiration to myself, and many others, and she will be sadly missed.”
Her son, Dr Daryl Brown, co-principal of the school, said: “We as a family are deeply saddened by the loss and we know this grief is shared by the many people who knew her and supported throughout her life. She was an inspiration to myself, and many others, and she will be sadly missed.”