SHE taught hundreds of Hampshire schoolchildren to read during a teaching career spanning more than 40 years.

Dorothy Bigley, who worked at several Eastleigh schools from the 1940s to the 1980s, has passed away in the Bishopstoke home she loved aged 99.

She was born in 1921 in Eastleigh, the eldest of four children, and educated at Chamberlayne Road School, passing her 11 plus exam a year early.

Dorothy moved on to Barton Peveril Grammar and then moved to London to attend Teacher Training College.

War broke out the day after her 18th birthday and she trained and worked as a teacher during the Blitz, accompanying evacuees from London.

Dorothy would often regale her family with stories from the war and narrow escapes. She was once visiting Southampton Art Gallery but left in a hurry because she was late for the theatre. Just a few minutes into the show at the now Mayflower, the whole building shook as a bomb was dropped on the art gallery.

In 1941, she met Ron, who was also from Eastleigh, at the town's Baptist Church. They married on New Year's Eve the following year, a union which would last 65 years until Ron's death in 2008.

Ron was sent to India three weeks after they married and only returned to England three years later.

Dorothy and Ron started married life together in Eastleigh after the war where Dorothy taught at Derby Road Primary School.

Dorothy and Ron had a number of adventurous cycling holidays in France and Germany in the late 40s/early 50s in the shadow of the end of the war.

The couple, both now teachers, bought their forever home in 1951 and had two children Steve and Christine (Chris) and a granddaughter Sarah.

Throughout the 60s and 70s, Dorothy continued teaching at various schools in the Eastleigh area, including Shakespeare Road, Stoke Park Junior and Alderman Quilley Secondary.

The Bigleys retired from teaching in the 1980s and spent the next 25 years enjoying coach and driving holidays around the UK. Dorothy had never been on an aeroplane until she was into her 60s and took her first trip in a glider. She then embraced flying and took a number of long haul trips to Canada to visit family.

Her great loves were family, holidays and gardening and she shared a love of theatre with her granddaughter, enjoying many trips to see musicals, pantomimes and plays together. She also attended many school performances, assemblies, festivals and plays to watch Sarah perform.

Dorothy enjoyed trips to garden centres for coffee with Chris and drives to the countryside with Steve until just a few weeks before her death.