A WELL known and much loved Bradfordian, Fay Kramrisch’s life can be summed up as “the epitome of triumph over adversity through dedication and service.”

Born in 1925 in Amsterdam to Jewish parents Hilda and Mark-William Kramrisch, a difficult early childhood, much of it in dire poverty, moving frequently in London, Manchester and Bradford and with many different carers, led to Fay, aged seven, making a resolution that when she was grown up she would be self-supporting and NEVER depend upon anyone.

This resolve and determination was to shape and drive her many achievements over the following nine decades.

Despite attending eight different schools, including three grammar schools (Manchester, Blackpool as an evacuee, and Bellevue), Fay excelled and was always top of her class. She relished the public library as she had never owned a book outside of school.

During WWII, Fay worked for the relocated General Electric Company (GEC) testing radio receivers for the RAF. She studied Higher Maths, Radio Communications and Electronics and at GEC received three promotions - leading to the position of Assistant Design Engineer, receiving a company award for her suggestions.

At the end of the war when GEC relocated back to Coventry she was offered a permanent job but turned it down.

Fay then worked as an invoice clerk at an engineering firm whilst providing a home in Manchester for her father and her two brothers, but she made the difficult decision to leave Manchester for Bradford.

Fay continued to face hurdles. She was initially turned down for teacher training as the war had prevented her from attending sixth form. However she was introduced socially to the Chairman of the West Riding Education Committee. Having effectively interviewed her, he suggested that she apply to study at Bingley college. She was accepted and again excelled.

With no one local suitably qualified, it took a visit from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to judge her specialist thesis on ‘Hydroponics’, giving it an award of distinction.

Fay never married and her all-consuming teaching career - initially Maths and then due to staff shortage, English as well as Needlework and PE, won her several awards and accolades. She was headhunted by Eccleshill comprehensive.

A few years later the Headmaster of Fairfax comprehensive created a special Head of Department position in order that Fay would accept it.

Determined to own her own home, she was deeply disappointed and frustrated that women at that time needed a male guarantor for a mortgage. Her uncle Bernard stepped in to do so, despite the fact he was earning less money!

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Fay as a young woman Fay as a young woman (Image: Irene Blaston)

She served on and received honours from many committees across Bradford, including as President and Treasurer of the Bradford Schools Athletic Association, of which she became a life member; and Secretary of the annual schools drama festival. For many years she volunteered at a centre for deprived and criminally minded young people, in addition she

was awarded life membership of the National Union of Teachers - her handbook ‘Information for teachers in Bradford schools’ was in every staff room across the city.

However it was during her time as Senior Mistress at Fairfax Comprehensive when her work to create a scheme to meet the special needs of foreign exchange teachers led to her being awarded the OBE in the 1978 New Year’s Honours.

Fay was a staunch royalist and was deeply proud of having met the late Queen Elizabeth II twice. However, like her royal role-model, Fay had the strongest of work ethics and despite being nominated by the Pro Vice Chancellor of Bradford University, she turned down one invitation to a royal garden party as she didn’t want to be absent from work!

Post retirement, Fay continued to be Bradford’s best ambassador, with a deep love of local history she was proud to show off the culture, history and beauty of the city and surrounding area to visitors.

Fay was a people-person, happy to be with young and old alike. She worked quietly and tirelessly to bridge the gaps across the generations, religions and cultures in Bradford and, as a result she was invited to many civic functions across the city. Her genuine interest in others, together with her self-effacing manner led her to be loved and respected by people across the entire community, with many a senior local dignitary referring to her affectionately as “Aunty Fay”.

Undertaking duty and service to the very end, Fay left her body to medical science.

* Fay Rose Kramrisch OBE died, aged 98, on October 2.