Tributes paid to much loved St Albans drama teacher

Harriet Rowlands

Harriet Rowlands - Credit: Archant

Family and friends were in mourning this week following the sudden death of popular drama teacher and local actress, Harriet Rowlands.

She died at her home in St Albans last Tuesday, January 7, leaving her husband Anthony, a Lib Dem district councillor for a total of 25 years, and two grown-up children, Alice and Sam.

Tributes have been paid by the Company of Ten drama group, Beaumont School where she taught English and drama until her retirement in 2013 and her husband, currently leader of the Lib Dems on St Albans council.

He said: “Like so many remarkable people, Harriet dedicated herself to the service of others as testified by the extraordinary and greatly appreciated outpouring of affection and gratitude since her tragic and bewildering death.

“It’s not easy having a spouse involved in politics. She was amazingly supportive, affirming the value of public service whether that meant dealing with children’s bed-time unaided or stuffing yet more leaflets through letter boxes.”

He added: “Words cannot express the magnitude of the gap she has left in so many lives.”

Paul Davidson, chairman of the Company of Ten, described Harriet as a “long-standing and very loyal member” of the drama group and added: “She was a fine actress who appeared in many productions at the Abbey Theatre but also regularly took her turn with front-of-house duties. She will be very greatly missed.”

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Also paying tribute, Liz Hitch, headteacher of Beaumont School, said: “Harriet will be sorely missed by students and staff alike. She communicated her passion for English and Drama to all around her.

“Her enthusiasm was boundless and her capacity to comfort and support students in need of help was remarkable. Colleagues adored her for her compassion, sense of solidarity, and for the practical support she offered to so many.”

Harriet was the daughter of the late Professor Alick Isaacs, eminent virologist who discovered Interferon, and the late Dr Susanna Isaacs-Elmhirst, consultant in child psychiatry and psychoanalyst.

After attending North London Collegiate School, she studied English and Music at York University and dance at the Laban Studio before qualifying as a secondary school teacher at the Institute of Education, London

As well as teaching at Beaumont, she was head of drama at Loreto College in St Albans and Kings Langley School.

Since her retirement, she had worked as a volunteer steward at the Globe Theatre and had also begun to help at a local primary school.

An inquest into her death was opened and adjourned this week.