Tributes have been paid to respected former teacher and National Trust volunteer Miss Joan Hill who was known for her caring personality and independent nature.

Miss Hill passed away peacefully at the South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen on Thursday, December 19, 2019.

Describing her late aunt as “very caring” and sharing that she will miss the long phone conversations they used to have, Miss Hill’s niece Samantha Peace said: “She was always interested in us, that is my sister and I, her nieces, and what we were doing in our careers and all our way through school.”

“She would always want to know what we were up to and what we were doing and she would never want to make a fuss or put people to trouble. She was that sort of person,” Ms. Peace added.

This caring attitude was also evident throughout Miss Hill’s teaching career at Enniskillen Collegiate Grammar School, the school she had attended in her youth and held the role of Head Girl from 1950 to 1951.

On return to Enniskillen after teaching in the south of England, Miss Hill took up the post of Head of History at the Collegiate in 1966, a position she held for thirty years until her retirement in 1996.

During her time at the school, Miss Hill formed a close friendship with her colleague Kate Doherty.

Paying tribute to Miss Hill, Miss Doherty said: “Joan was a shrewd judge of character and ability, could see the potential in her pupils and then provided the encouragement to see that potential realised.

“Pupils who went on school trips with her especially were also able to see the more relaxed side of her and appreciated her dry sense of humour.”

“One role for which she will ever be remembered is her responsibility for school uniform and so many pupils recall the length of their skirts being checked and being told to tuck in their school blouse.

“However, in every interaction, there was an underlying care for pupils and their individual circumstances which I remember well,” shared Miss Doherty.

In her retirement, one role that meant much to Miss Hill was her involvement with the National Trust.

“My understanding is that Joan visited Castle Coole on the first day that the property opened to the public back in 1952 and thus it was so appropriate that when she retired she became a tour guide at the house, taking specialist tours on occasions, becoming a volunteer once she reached the official retirement age.

“Joan was greatly admired and respected by everyone for her detailed knowledge of the property, her attention to accurate detail and historical fact and her enthusiastic communication of that knowledge to the visitors and tour groups,” noted Miss Doherty.

“She is also remembered as being thoughtful, kind and supportive, particularly helping new tour guides to gain confidence and experience,” she added.

Miss Hill’s National Trust colleagues were delighted that she was able to represent the property’s volunteers at the Secretary of State’s Royal Garden Party at Castle Coole in May 2019.

“It was just a lovely occasion and it’s a really special memory for me in particular because she was really in her element,” shared Ms. Peace, who attended the garden party with her late aunt.

Ms. Peace noted that “a lot” of people from the Collegiate and the National Trust attended Miss Hill’s funeral, which took place on Tuesday, January 7 and was conducted by W T Morrison, Funeral Directors, Enniskillen.

“It has given us a lot of comfort to know that she was held in such high regard and that there was real affection for her.

It was lovely to hear all the different stories that people had about her,” Ms. Peace told this newspaper.