Q&A: My Newham - former teacher Rosina Purnell

PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 August 2018


Former teacher Rosina Purnell speaks about her inspirational headmistress and how tackling homelessness and the housing crisis must be a priorty.

Retired teacher Rosina Purnell grew up in Newham and can remember roars coming from the Boleyn Ground on Saturday afternoons during visits to her parents in Plashet Grove. After graduating college, she taught English in a small mining village in South Yorkshire and, later, the now-demolished Faraday Secondary Modern School in Plaistow.

What’s your connection with the borough?

I was brought up in Manor Park and went to East Ham Grammar School for Girls (now Plashet School) for seven years. I taught in Newham from 1970 till 1975. My grandfather, David Levitt, owned a shop in Plashet Grove from 1919 till 1969. He was a master tailor who made the mayor of West Ham’s suit which he wore when he attended the Queen’s coronation in Westminster Abbey in 1953.

What’s the best thing about working or living in the borough?

The wonderful Newham Bookshop which is unique in this part of London. It has an inspirational collection of literature and has been a supporter of the arts for decades.

What one thing would you change?

I wish the District line moved faster. Sometimes it’s like the slow boat to China!

Use three words to describe the area.

Diverse, lively, colourful.

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

Miss Mitchell, headmistress of East Ham Grammar School for Girls. She was dedicated to her profession and wanted girls to succeed in all walks of life.

She encouraged us to have ambitious aspirations and pursue career paths so that we could lead independent lives as young women.

What new law would you introduce if you were the prime minister?

I would like to see a law which somehow ended homelessness in this country.

If you were the editor of this paper, what issues in the borough would you focus on?

Housing, housing, housing!

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