Charlotte Reed was a crafter, artist, baker, teacher, daughter, aunt, partner to Antony, a friend to many and one of the founders of Primary English. She was a bombshell of feisty individualism, relentless energy and wicked, infectious humour. After diagnosis of cancer in May 2014, Charlotte died in Myton Hospice on Wednesday 15th October, 2014.
They say that even the brightest star won’t shine forever. But in fact, the brightest star would live the shortest amount of time. (Philip Plait)
Charlotte was the brightest star I’ve ever met: radiant from her head to her ‘stilettoed’ heel. She filled rooms with laughter, light and love. Her irreverence, sharpness and quirky turn of phrase seeped into the bones of her friends. We were ‘giddy kippers’ in her company, revelling in her anecdotes of trips to the theatre, her ‘fabulous’ shopping trips and her ‘frankly’ essential new handbag purchases.
Charlotte was an advocate. She worked hard to promote children’s literature which she did as part of the shortlisting panel for The Coventry Inspiration Book Awards. She was one of the organisers of the Literally Book Festival and an avid collector of illustrated children’s fiction. If there was ever a chance to squeeze children’s books into one of our training sessions then Charlotte was there with her shoehorn ready to fit it in. Her advocacy extended to the teachers she supported on a day to day basis. She was adept at raising their confidence, in providing them with skills and empowering them to improve their own practice. She believed in the potential of the teachers she worked with. Before establishing Primary English, Charlotte had been our team leader. She looked after our interests like a mother bear protecting her cubs. She led us, cared for us and made sure that our interests were served at all times.
Charlotte’s love for her friends was boundless. Her many gifts reflected this love: handmade cards; hand-stitched gifts; home-made cakes and little curios picked up in ‘lovely little shops’. These were for birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Valentines’, Halloween, because it was Friday…any reason she could think of. But gifts weren’t the sum of her friendships. Charlotte was more than this. Her friendship was about the quick text messages after a hard day or a humorous Facebook post when she knew you were feeling blue. She was kind and thoughtful.
Charlotte had relentless energy. She had places to go, shows to watch, hotels to stay in, and fabulous holidays to enjoy. She loved life and embraced everything it had to offer. Arranging a social event with Charlotte involved a coordination of diaries that would surprise even the queen.
Charlotte’s feistiness is unforgettable. She possessed an enviable steadfastness in her own opinions. In writing these words about her I turned to E. B. White, wanting to draw on the beauty of his prose as he described the passing of Charlotte A. Cavatica. I found what I was looking for but in the back of my mind was our Charlotte, saying it how it was, “When your name’s Charlotte people buy you copies of Charlotte’s Web. That’s nice. But, I just hate that book.” And of course she did. It’s about a pig and a spider. There’s no gallant hero, no romance, no glitter, rainbows, magic, dancing, love or romance…Those were the things that Charlotte loved and because she was so clear about what she did and didn’t like it is easier to remember her. She was one of the brightest stars and like many other bright stars her light went out too soon.
In memory of my dear friend Charlotte Reed.