Mary Payne Giles

Born in 1837, Mary became the Secretary of the Correspondence Department at Ruskin when it first opened its doors in 1899. Already in her sixties, she dealt with 9,500 students as Secretary during her period of office, both in in England and overseas. At one point she was dealing with 1000 new students every year, from all types of occupations. A favourite phrase of hers was “college first” and she believed that, given time, the college’s correspondence courses would cover the entire world.

Bertram Wilson, Ruskin’s General Secretary, would write that “to the students she was a guide and helper” and Henry Sanderson Furniss, the third Principal of Ruskin paid tribute to her after her death in 1915, saying that “the College will never be the same again, but we must remember that without her it would never have been what it is.”

She was one of the people who laid a foundation stone for the new buildings at Walton Street (along with Sidney Buxton, Anne Vrooman and C.W Bowerman) in 1912.

Mary died in 1915.

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