Sheelagh Warren

 Forever in our hearts

Miss Sheelagh Warren passed away peacefully in her sleep on 29th May 2022, at Frimley Park Hospital, in Surrey, UK. She was 94 years old.

Sheelagh joined Gayaza High School in 1957 teaching English and Religious Education, and was a Housemistress for Ham & Apollo, and later Corby House.

She became Headmistress of Gayaza High School in 1972 when the late Joan Cox retired. Apart from managing the school, she continued to teach and also produced a number of Shakespeare plays which included ‘Macbeth’, ‘Hamlet’, and ‘King Lear’.

In her own words, Miss Sheelagh Warren says, “I tried to teach them to persevere, to reach their full potential, to never give up.” In this she succeeded in seeing the girls through school, adulthood and beyond.

Miss Warren composed the Gayaza High School Anthem. She was awarded an MBE in 1981 for services to Education in Uganda. Sheelagh retired in 1990 and returned to the UK.

During her retirement, she wrote the book ‘Come Back at Two’ in 1993. Later, she was joined by the Late Joan Cox to write another book about Gayaza High School history, ‘The First 90 Years – 1905-1995’.

She is greatly missed.

The Funeral Service was held on 7th July 2022 , at 13:00, at St Thomas-on-The Bourne, Farnham GU9 8HA.

Please share your memories and tributes. Collecting your stories and memories here will offer us great comfort.

15 thoughts on “Sheelagh Warren

  1. Miss Warren as we used to call her was to me very strict, very precise in everything and expected the same from all students. I learnt to be exact, hard working and never to give up. I remember how she used to pray in the mornings during assembly, I remember Holy Communion services on Sundays. I learnt how to respect others and myself, great way of behaving at all times. I will always treasure the six years at Gayaza. I know we shall meet again.

  2. Dear Sheelagh,
    I was a rebel pupil at Gayaza. The only interaction I had with you outside class was when I was being ticked off for one misdemeanour or another. There was no love lost between us – or so I thought. Decades later, in London, I got to know you better and grew to love you dearly. I learnt to call you ‘Sheelagh’ comfortably. I and other OGs visited you at home several times. First you and Ann (Cutler), then you alone, would welcome us warmly, collecting us from the train station and then laying on sumptuous meals for us. Right up to the end, you were still driving your car!
    Each visit revealed an awesome side to you. The spotlessly clean house, neatly-mowed lawn and meticulous garden kept by your 90+ year-old self – with no help – was only one marvel. Your memory of dates and events would boggle the mind as you corrected us when we’d get things wrong. Gayaza was always at the forefront of your thoughts. Your up-to-date knowledge of what was going on at the school and among the OGs was simply astounding! Above all, your genuine humility which instinctively put everyone else’s needs first was truly amazing.
    I preferred email to telephone communication with you, as I felt you opened up much more of yourself in print. I couldn’t get enough of your subtle humour: you saw the funny side of everything, such as your “aging fingers” which made typing a bit challenging. I enjoyed your description of the simple pleasures in life, such as sitting in the garden to watch the sparrows feeding; or walking in the park on a sunny day. You shared with me some of the things that disrupted your equilibrium, such as not being able to take the car for servicing when you intended to, or battling to put on those stockings which you were given to treat a skin condition. You always answered my spiritual questions but you never preached to me. You prayed for me when I needed to change my job, and rejoiced with me when I got a new one – even sharing the news with Janice Hobday who rang to congratulate me!
    I regularly asked if you were still having your weekly German lessons – and the answer was always ‘yes’ – right up to the end! With a zest for life, you unfailingly read your daily paper and would mention news items that I didn’t know about – such as the fate of Pablo Escobar’s hippos! You once told me about the cricket game that you were hooked on all afternoon, when England won. As the Brexit talks reached an impasse, you sent me a poem you’d written in 1983 when the Nairobi peace talks between NRA and the UNLF seemed to be going down the same road. You told me about the book “God and the Pandemic” (Tom Wright) as we lived through lockdown, commenting that everyone ought to read it. Two weeks before you were hospitalised, you were telling me about Cadfael the 15th century monk, whom I’d never heard of! I always joked that your brain should be preserved for scientific research. We planned that I’d visit with Harriet Kateregga and Winnie Sewagudde Mubiru to sing Easter carols with you and visit the place where Ann’s ashes were buried. It wasn’t to be.
    On Sunday 22nd May, Harriet gave me the news of your illness and the devastating prognosis. We visited on Tuesday. You were weak but looked happy. We spent a happy time with you, chatting and praying; you smiled beautifully when we played you an audio recital of Psalm 103. You sang along to “Low, in the grave He lay” which we played you. You let us feed you:
    Harriet giving you the soup and I the ice cream. You loved the audio messages from Joyce and Lydia Mpanga. You looked sad as we said goodbye, but mouthed a “Thank You”. We promised to return.
    On Saturday 28th, I came back, in the evening. You were in so much pain and looked quite distressed. I called the nurse and pain relief was administered. It made little difference. Helpless, I could only hold your hand and pray, my heart breaking. I smoothed your hair gently as you closed your eyes in sleep, the film of sweat on your brow betraying the intensity of your pain. I would be your very last visitor.
    In the early hours of Sunday 29th you passed into glory. Tears … endless tears … from this wayward pupil whom you had embraced so warmly. No more fun, humorous emails. No more visits to Farnham. No more, that fountain of knowledge. No more, that tower of quiet strength whom I was incredibly privileged to call a friend. Rest in the Saviour’s arms, dear Sheelagh. We shall meet again someday – and sing those Easter carols with the heavenly choirs!
    Edith Mpanga nee Kamya

  3. Miss Sheelah Warren, made girls want to become Gayaza girls. She was the headmistress and the uniform very neat with a starched belt, the Christmas and Easter drama, plays and carols, the morning assembly before prayers.

  4. What I remember about Miss Sheelah Warren was the school uniform, was like a prison uniform but the difference is we had to starch the belt, until it is stiff. The new senior ones, nicknamed burnsens, cause that’s the first thing you learn in chemistry. And the early morning parade before service, and the Christmas nativity plays and carols.

  5. I thank God so much for Miss Warren. Nearly all I am and all I have is because of Miss Warren. I came in Senior one from a village school with no coin for school fees. My mom asked to talk to the headmistress. She requested Miss Warren to allow me to begin school, and told her that she had no money but if she got it she would pay. Miss Warren accepted and I began S1 in 1975. From S1 to S6 I never paid a shilling. I always got fees slips which I returned to the bursar and I never knew what Miss Warren did or how my school fees was paid . All I have I owe to her.

    Over the years Miss Warren showed me love and compassion. I remember one day when all the girls had gone for a short holiday and I remained in school with 2 or 3 other girls, Miss Warren came from her house and brought me Jelly for dessert! That was so sweet and loving of her!

    She had a way she built confidence in all the girls. I wasn’t the Head girl or Prefect, but when the Representative of the Commonwealth countries visited the school, she asked me to escort him around the school. That was a great honor!
    One time, she was invited to talk to the Christian fellowship in Nabbingo. She asked me and another girl to accompany her and we sang the prayer of St. Francis “ Make me a channel of your peace”
    She was a real channel of peace.

    Later, I joined her and taught in school. I enjoyed having Bible studies , dinners and lunches we shared at her house. In some of my last communications with her she told me how she had harvested a bowl full of berries, and that her song was what we always sang in Gayaza;
    “How Great is the God we adore , Our faithful eternal friend His love is as great as His power and knows neither measure no end.
    He is the beginning and the Last .
    He will guide us safely home. We will praise Him for all that is past .
    We will trust Him for all that’s to come”

    Indeed He guided her safely home. She ran a good race and a crown of glory she has received. Forever in my heart.

  6. Miss Sheelagh Warren was one of the most courageous people I have had the privileged to know. She stood up to teenagers’ misdemeanours, parents’ sometimes unfair demands, army men’s disruption of her school and all the country’s shortages (material and moral) with equal firmness, humour and grace.
    She was amiable; a very widely knowledged teacher of English and a very good judge of character of people she met. Sheelagh reflected a Christian life well lived and service faithfully rendered.
    Rest in the Lord’s embrace our sorely missed friend.

  7. There are no words to express my sorrow that Miss Warren is no longer with us.
    She was such a rock and guiding star during my time at Gayaza. Someone that you could trust no matter what.
    Her care of all of us went beyond a house mistress or head mistress or educator, and that is something we all appreciated.
    Long after i’d left Gayaza she was still in my life being a tower of strength, giving me the emotional support required to navigate my new world and all it’s challenges.
    She remains an inspiration and i hope that she knew how much she meant to us.

  8. Very inspiring story. I joined Gayaza after she had left (joined in 1993) but I heard my older sister talk about her frequently. How can I get the books “Come back at Two” and “The first 90 years”? The example of these women missionaries as well as my own experience at Gayaza High School (1993 – 1998) inspired me to start a Christian School in West Nile, Uganda. I would like to glean more from these ladies’ experiences while steering Gayaza. May we continue in what we have learnt.
    Humbly, a Gayaza girl…

    Ida Semyano Bakuraira (1993 – 1998)

  9. Knowing what I know spiritually, now, I can confidently say that Ms. Warren had a gift of a Seer. I recall that she sat with the girls to talk about career, and many ended up in professions she told us we belonged. If it was not for her, it would have been difficult for me to complete school. I recall that I benefitted from the study bursary available then, and as a Reverend’s daughter, it came as a huge relief. Small things that Ms. Warren did that made one feel special; sending me a condolence card when I lost my father in my senior four vacation, through the post office, made me feel loved and cared for. Rest in Peace Ms Warren, you sure touched my life!!!

  10. My aunties always talked good about Miss Warren and her English with literature as an excellent teacher.Only that made me to love both subjects because they always explained to me where I had challenges most especially with the Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë where I ended up with an “A”
    Rest with the angels dear.

  11. She taught me Literature in senior five and six and actually sent me on a suspension for two weeks for being rowdy in class! When I came back after three weeks, she showed so much concern that I had missed a lot of classes and actually took steps to help me catch up! I owe my B in Literature and law school to her! She was tough but very loving! May she rest with the Angels!

  12. Ms. Warren, always kind, and compassionate. She gave me a school mattress which my mother could not afford to pay for. When Mrs. Kavuma asked for the pay slip I told her I didn’t have it. I don’t remember what she said to me but I started to cry out of both confusion and embarrassment. Ms. Warren authorised Mr. Kasolo, the bursar, to give me a slip and I got the mattress. It was by acts of kindness by the headmistress that I attended GHS. I didn’t develop a personal relationship with her, I doubt that she remembered much of that, but I hold on to the memories that gave me and others like me opportunity to attain an invaluable education and learning. She sure stood for optimisation of the potential of girls.
    Rest in perfect peace.

  13. Miss Warren steered the school through its worst periods: the 1979 war of liberation and through the
    Luwero Bush war of 1981- 1986.
    I remember her most as my English and Literature teacher. She tried all she could to persuade me to take English at A- level but never succeeded since I had made up my mind to become a medical doctor. We fell out completely but later made up when I became the Secretary of GOGA. She helped our executive to revive GOGA which became a strong pillar for the 1st indegenous teacher, Ruth Kavuma, as she ran the school. Miss Warren was very keen to connect the students of the day with the old girls of the school. That is how the Gayaza Day which falls on the second Saturday of June was born. On that day we celebrate all that the school stands for: the love of God, being there for one another and actively participating in the development of the school. Thankfully, I wrote to her when I started writing short stories and blogging. I had come full circle!
    Thank you Miss Warren for giving us your whole. Nothing gave you as much joy as serving the school.
    You were a priceless gift to all those who passed through your hands for the 33 years you spent in GHS.
    You are worth the company of Angels.
    Dr. Jane Kavuma( student from 1958- 1971)

  14. Very sad she taught me Literature is S4 in which I easily got my credit 3 I went on to do sciences so our roads did not cross much after that! She was a stoic teacher, a woman of her words!

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