Heather Rankine 1941-2011

Heather Rankine was born into a long established Dulwich family where her father, grandfather and two uncles were all local doctors. The house of her childhood stood in Half Moon Lane and was famous for the ancient and huge elm which grew in the front garden.

She followed in the footsteps of her mother and mother-in-law in attending James Allen’s Girls’ School but decided that she already had had enough of medical practices to consider medicine as a career and when she came to leave she was set to become a primary school teacher, even to the extent of registering at the Froebel Institute at Roehampton. However, a week before she was due to start her studies she changed her mind and decided to become a dentist! After considerable effort in gaining the correct admission qualifications she became one of only six women on the dentistry course at university. She qualified as a dentist at the Royal Dental Hospital and was a House Surgeon at St George’s Hospital before joining the Jenner Health Centre at Forest Hill. She became a partner in a dental practice in Dulwich Village in 1987, where she worked until her retirement.

She became a governor of JAGS in 1981, serving for a period of twenty years. She was also associated with the school’s Old Girls’ Association becoming a vice-president in 1998. It was partly through her initiative that the very successful JAGS sports club originated.

Heather was, for fifteen years, a Trustee of the Dulwich Estate, as a nominee of JAGS, and where she was noted for her perseverance in getting to grips with the minutiae of its accounts and decision making. When she joined the Board of Trustees she was the sole female, out of a membership of fourteen, a situation which remained the same for the next five or so years. She also served on the various committees through which the Board operates including the Scheme of Management, making time to attend the monthly meetings to consider applications for changes to property and again doing her homework. It was not unknown for her to have paid a prior visit to a property in question in order that she could fully understand the implications of the changes proposed. She had the distinction of becoming the first female Chairman of the Board of Trustees in its history.

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