Torquay Teacher Who Worked Until Her 90th Birthday Dies at Age 97

Torquay Teacher Who Worked Until Her 90th Birthday Dies at Age 97
Chris Downer/Wikimedia Commons

A popular Torquay teacher, Eileen Barber, who was married to the founder of Central Church in Torquay has died at the age of 97.

A thanksgiving and remembrance service will be held for Eileen Barber in St Marychurch at Abbey School, where she taught for 25 years – from 1981 until her retirement in 1992.

After retiring from her job as a full-time teacher, Eileen Barber continued teaching privately until she retired after her 90th birthday. The remembrance and thanksgiving service for Mrs Barber will be held at Central Church, Torquay, on Thursday at 12.30 pm.

Aside from teaching, Eileen was also famous as the organist at Furrough Cross United Reformed Church and retired in 2001 after more than 25 years of service.

When her husband, Revd Derrick Barber, became the founding minister at Central Church in 1965, Eileen moved to Torquay. She belonged to the Torbay Singers. Aside from this, she was served as an accompanist to the Cameo Singers in the 1970s.

Her music career was considered miraculous. First, she had to overcome deafness because during her first pregnancy at 26 years old, she became completely deaf.

To restore her hearing, she consented to become a “guinea pig” in a new Fenestration Operation since music was central in her life. This involved spending at least six weeks at the Ear Nose and Throat Hospital in London’s Gray’s Inn Road.

Susan, her daughter, said that Eileen was incredibly joyful after she realised that she could hear the conversation of others in the ward after lying in bed for a few days.

She also said that Eileen never failed to give thanks for the beautiful gift of practical hearing after its restoration.

Eileen Barber was born in North London in 1923 and died before her 98th birthday. At a young age, Eileen grew up with a mother who was deaf and a father who was blind. Her father lost his eyesight at 19 years after being wounded in the First World War.

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