Former teacher made education her life's work

Marilyn Eccles. (s)
Marilyn Eccles. (s)

A former popular Pendle Primary School teacher has died after a short battle with Motor Neurone Disease and Dementia.

A funeral service was held at St Peter’s Church, Salesbury, on Thursday, where her life and work were celebrated by family, friends and colleagues.

Marilyn Eccles (64) was born to Stanley and Eileen Pilkington in Rishton in 1952. She attended St Peter’s and St Paul’s Primary School in Rishton, before going on to Accrington High School for Girls.

Aged 16, Marilyn met future husband Graham at a bus station as they both returned from their respective holidays. The couple set up home in Wilpshire, welcoming daughter Charlotte in 1982.

Taking up a post at Pendle Primary School was the start of Marilyn’s decorated career and also marked the beginning of a lifelong passion for education which would see her realise many of her ambitions in the field.

A position as deputy headteacher at Revoe Primary School in Blackpool followed her stint at Pendle, before she took the next step as headteacher at Thames Primary in the town.

Marilyn later said she always remembered what the caretaker at Pendle had told her in her early career when she had been struggling: “You can smack a donkey on its bottom time and time again, but sometimes you have to give it a carrot.”

With so much experience on the teaching front line, Marilyn then made the move into a management post and was appointed Deputy Chief Education Officer for Manchester.

A skilled and talented people manager who was able to use her vast teaching experience to support and inspire others, Marilyn was soon seconded to head up the Centre for Urban Education in Manchester, where she worked until her retirement.

A strong and determined woman who remained upbeat until the end, Marilyn was lovingly cared for by her partner John, whom she met in 2013 through their shared love of dancing, throughout her illness.