Val Pretlove Retires

Val Pretlove, a long-standing and much loved WEA tutor has retired. David Gambrill, Chair of WEA Wokingham & District writes the below fitting tribute to a tutor who will be sorely missed.

“Val Pretlove seems to have been active with Southern Region, especially the Thames Valley, forever. However, that time has now come to an end with her last class having been given for Wokingham Branch at the end of September. Once again the subject was London, its history, architecture and social history. This Day School was entitled Paddington Station, Regents Canal Basin and Little Venice. She went out on a high note with a full class of 40 students.

Val started working for Wokingham Branch (as well as others in the Thames Valley) in 2010, not long after the branch underwent its own renaissance. I do not think that its success can be separated from Val’s constant popularity. Her courses were consistently over-subscribed with potential students almost fighting for places.

Her first introduction to education came in the 8Os when she studied with the Open University, gaining an Arts Degree with Honours in 1987. This was done whilst she was working in the NHS as a nurse, then a manager and also bringing up a family.

In 1999, having got a taste for delivering Adult Education, she then became a Registered Guide and Lecturer in the City of London. The love of London that she obtained then led to employment with The University of Reading’s School Of Continuing Education and a series of courses. When that closed and was taken over by the new WEA Reading Branch, her allegiance transferred to the Thames Valley. She became a very strong presence and scarcely an Area meeting went by without her getting a mention in dispatches.

What we appreciated was her tendency to leave her students wanting more. She was able to meet that demand by planning ahead so we were never short of interesting courses. It really did not matter whether they were study days, full courses that included trips up to London; they were all so interesting and her delivery was such that one felt involved personally. She had a disarming manner which included admitting that she did not know an answer to a question. What she did then was to find the answer. 

Val had something that is a very important virtue with tutors. She was very well organised and punctual – very important when many of her courses involved visiting London. To my knowledge she never lost anybody! She has developed a skill of drawing in people who have an affinity for London and making them realise just how much more there is to learn about a subject; in her case London. This is rounded off by her handouts which encourage further study.

We shall miss her, not only because of her ability and presence as a tutor but her personality. The latter word is often over-used but not in her case. I still have a picture of her having arrived by bike and train with her material, literally, on her back. Also she was just so appreciative of the support that we gave her.”