We are saddened to share the news of the death of Julia Collyer Gearing (née Mace) YG 1954. Julia died on 17th September 2021 aged 85 in a care home at Seaford following a long battle with Parkinson's disease. She was at the school between 1943 and 1954. Geoff Pilliner (YG 1954) has written the following account of Julia's life:
Julia was born in London in 1936, moving to Bognor Regis to join other relatives during the war. The elder daughter of Godrey and Dorothy Mace, she was just eight years old when she was sent to board in the Junior House at Saffron Walden, the school her father had attended, as it was a safer place to be during the war than on the South Coast. Her sister Bronwen (YG 1957) came to the school two years later. Julia remained at the school until she was eighteen, and achieved the A-levels she needed to go to the City of Leeds Teacher Training College. On gaining her teaching certificate she taught for a short while and then took a number of jobs before returning to Primary School teaching back in East Sussex, at Ringmer. She delighted in her teaching and always spoke of it with great fondness.
Julia had been born into a Quaker family and was active in the Society, and so met a similarly active member in Trevor Gearing. They were married at Blue Idol Meeting House in 1967 and lived in the outskirts of Lewes for the whole of their married life. Trevor was a member of a large local family (his sister lived next door to them) and they were heavily involved in the Bonfire Society, a group that staged a large pageant in Lewes each year in remembrance of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot. Julia was quickly drawn into the Bonfire Society and made many good friends there. Her creativity and resourcefulness came to the fore making costumes and collecting donations during the street processions. Trevor had a genetic problem with his back and increasingly it fell to her to assist him. In later life Julia too had health problems, with Parkinson’s disease. But they were able to live well enough until Trevor became bedridden, and died just before their 50th wedding anniversary. Julia then bought a sheltered flat in Lewes and was really pleased with her independence and convenience, but it was not to last. She had a stroke, became liable to falling over, and ultimately had to go into care homes. Julia kept her independent spirit throughout, maintaining contact with friends and family and enjoying visitors and phone calls in return. Julia spent her final days close to her much loved Sussex coast and died peacefully, aged 85.