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Special occasion . . . Waitaki Girls' High School head girl Molly Hurst receives the $8000 cheque and a copy of Violet Monteath-Walker's writings from Mike Beard, accompanied by principal Tracy Walker (left) and historian Helen Stead. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

A new scholarship has been created at Waitaki Girls’ High School in honour of former pupil and teacher Violet Monteath-Walker.

A year 13 pupil who shows merit in an annual essay-writing competition will be awarded $1000 towards further education.

A cheque for $8000 to fund the venture was presented to principal Tracy Walker and head girl Molly Hurst this week by Mrs Monteath-Walker’s son-in-law Mike Beard.

He raised the funds through sales of a book of Mrs Monteath-Walker’s writings, North Otago – Stories of People and Places

In her 50s, Mrs Monteath-Walker had started writing articles about Oamaru and North Otago history.

Over the next 30 years some 50 articles were published in newspapers – 40 of them in the Otago Daily Times

She was instrumental in compiling Waitaki Girls’ history, and wrote articles for its 75th and 90th anniversaries.

Her daughters, Joy and Kathryn, also pupils there, knew their mother wanted her writings collected. Joy began assembling the articles but died in 2016 before the project was finished.

Dr Beard, Joy’s widower, took it up and launched the book in November last year.

It had support not only from the school but also from historian and former Waitaki Girls’ pupil Helen Stead and from Jean Rivett, at the Oamaru Library.

Mrs Stead acknowledged Mrs Monteath-Walker’s contribution to the school’s recorded history, saying she followed in her footsteps as co-author of the centenary book The Honour of Her Name

Dr Beard said his sister-in-law Kathryn, who lives in Florence, was closely involved in the project.

“My mother had the ability to write clearly, with humour, intelligence and a deep interest in local history,” she wrote.

“What could be more appropriate than an essay prize in her name.”

Dr Beard agreed that the scholarship was “very consistent with Violet’s way”.

“She was very interested in history, and accuracy, and writing properly.

“She liked helping young people. She inspired people.”