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Ragley Characters
Jack Sheffield
Beth Henderson
Vera Evans
Ruby Smith
Map of Ragley-on-the-Forest
Ragley Characters

Vera Evans
School Secretary

Vera had proved invaluable in my first few weeks as a headmaster. She knew how to deal with the avalanche of circulars from County Hall, check registers, collect dinner money, keep accounts and answer awkward telephone calls. According to her official job description, Vera was a part-time ‘Clerical Assistant’ but no one would have dared to call her anything other than ‘School Secretary’.

In her mid-fifties, Vera was a tall, slim, elegant woman with neatly permed, silver-grey hair. She was very proud of her job and extremely protective of her own space in the office we shared. Her desk was always tidy and she insisted that Ruby never came near it. When Ruby knocked gently on the door and asked if she could collect the wastepaper from the bin, Vera would leap to the defence of her little empire. She would stand with arms folded in the office doorway, refusing admittance, like a slim ear of corn bravely defying a huge, red, combine harvester. In the school office Vera reigned supreme.

Her appearance was always immaculate. She would arrive at school wearing a conservative blue suit or office-grey two-piece from Marks and Spencer, her favourite shop. Vera was a spinster and lived in the vicarage on the Morton Road with her brother, Joseph, who was both vicar of the parish and Chairman of the School Governors. He, like his sister, had never married and Vera looked after him in a maternal way, making his meals and tidying his library of dusty books.

Vera worked tirelessly each week filling the church with flowers. Whilst this was a labour of love, the real love of her life was her three cats, Treacle, Jess and Maggie. She called them her ‘little darlings’ and stroked them with her long fingers whenever they demanded her attention. Her favourite was Maggie, a black cat with distinctive white paws, named after Margaret Thatcher, who was regarded by Vera as the rising star of the Conservative Party.
‘She will be our first woman Prime Minister, just you wait and see,’ she used to tell a disbelieving audience in the staff-room.