Tributes to “special” teacher famous for handing out Gummi Bear rewards

Liz Yatteau, pictured on a visit to Germany in 2010.

Liz Yatteau, pictured on a visit to Germany in 2010. - Credit: Archant

A POPULAR teacher who used to hand out Gummi Bears as rewards to students has died.

Liz Yatteau, pictured in around 1979.

Liz Yatteau, pictured in around 1979. - Credit: Archant

Liz Yatteau, of Alconbury Weston, was described as “funny, fearsomely bright, irreverent and fearless” by friends, relatives and colleagues from St Peter’s and Hinchingbrooke schools, where she taught modern foreign languages.

The 67-year-old was born in Bad Liebenstein, East Germany, on August 17, 1945, and moved to Ludwigshafen, near Mannheim, West Germany, aged 15 after the Soviet invasion.

There she met her future husband, Donald Yatteau, who was serving in the US Air Force, and came with him to England in 1973 when he was posted to RAF Alconbury.

“She felt very much at home in Huntingdon, where for many years she was a familiar figure,” said the couple’s only daughter, Sandy Yatteau. “Tending to challenge convention, she brought to the classroom and other areas of life a real sense of vigour and fun.”

Mrs Yatteau attended teacher training college in Bedford and went on to complete undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, where she obtained a starred first class degree in modern languages.

“Her whole identity was rooted in teaching and learning,” said Sandy. “Having taught literally thousands of people during her near 30-year teaching career, she leaves behind a living legacy.”

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Former colleague Eileen Kelly said: “It was in the classroom that her really special qualities came to the fore. Students loved to be in her class.

“She made learning a language fun. Lessons were pervaded by her humour, laughter was an expected part of any interaction with her.

“This may sound as if she was giving her students an easy time but that is far from the truth. She expected hard work and high standards of her pupils and her classes’ results were always remarkable.

“Liz had a gift: her friendship and her friends came from all walks of life.”

As well as teaching, Liz was also a ‘stalwart member’ at Huntingdon Twinning Committee.

Di Beddow, vice principal at Hinchingbrooke School, where Liz had worked between 1997 and 2005, said: “Liz was an excellent teacher. She was demanding and had authority but was also the provider of Gummi Bears as rewards. She did not suffer fools gladly but also could be warm and generous. Many people at Hinchingbrooke, both staff and students, will remember her and miss her.”

Mrs Yatteau, who is survived by her husband, daughter and grand-daughter Cara, died on December 12. Her funeral was held at the West Chapel of Cambridge City Crematorium on January 4 and attended by nearly 100 people.