Funeral date set for 'trailblazer' Shrewsbury professor

The life of an extraordinary Shrewsbury woman will be marked at her funeral.

Professor Lalage Bown with her foster daughters Taiwo Oluwatomisin and Kehinde Akin
Professor Lalage Bown with her foster daughters Taiwo Oluwatomisin and Kehinde Akin

Emeritus Professor Lalage Bown OBE died in Shrewsbury hospital on December 17, aged 94, after a fall at home.

Since her death tributes have poured in to Professor Bown, who has been described as an "icon" and a "trailblazer in the global adult education movement".

The family has sent invitations out to the funeral service which will be held at the crematorium in Shrewsbury at 9.15am on January 28 and they are planning a celebration of her life in the summer with a scattering of ashes in the church where she grew up in Woolstaston.

Professor Bown, who spent 30 years of her life working in Africa, was named ‘Mother of Adult Education in Africa’ in celebration of her 70th birthday in 1997.

Among the many heartfelt tributes posted online are those of Taiwo Oluwatomisin and Kehinde Akin, the foster daughters who lived with Professor Bown from the age of five in 1962. They called her Aunty Lala, and say she was a "mother personified".

"We came to her when we were quite young," they wrote.

Prof Bown pictured in Africa

"She brought us up took care of our education and everything a parent or mother should do towards her children.

"We went everywhere with her, except during the Nigerian civil war in 1967 when all foreigners left and we could not go with her as the government disallowed at that time.

"She came back in 1971 and we continued from where we stopped and never got separated again until her death.

"We cannot find words to describe our aunty/mother as she was everything in the world to us, a mother and a mentor," they add.

Prof Bown in her younger days

"She taught us to believe in and stand up for ourselves and never to be looked down upon or look down upon anyone. Everybody was important as her humanness and love for people of diverse background and culture can never be forgotten.

"She came all the way to Nigeria to attend our individual graduation ceremony in 1980, as well as our 50th birthday anniversary in 2006.

"As full grown-up adults she never imposed herself upon us but made suggestions to think about our actions and reactions to situations. She continued to give us motherly counsels and advice until the end of her life."

Professor Lalage Bown had a memorable encounter with Prince Philip

Their last visit to her was in August 2019 not knowing it was going to be the last of its type. We planned to pay her a visit in 2022 to celebrate a joint birthday party together according to her wish.

"We do not have sufficient words to describe her in this short tribute, other than continuing from where she stopped. We love her so dearly, but God Almighty loved her best and decided to take her away."

Last year Professor Bown told howshe was once 'Prince Philip's birthday present' during a memorable visit to Buckingham Palace in the 1980s.

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