Tributes have been paid to former teacher and museum founder Merrill Rhodes, who has died after a long illness.

Mrs Rhodes taught English and History in Hull before retiring to become a church liaison officer for the Church of England.

In that role she visited a large number or Church of England schools across Hull on a monthly basis.

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She also started to collect local artefacts and family history stories in the Sutton area while using a room in the village's former primary school.

Eventually, along with the help of friends , the school was opened as a volunteer-run museum celebrating the local history of both Sutton and nearby Wawne while Mrs Rhodes also wrote an book charting the history of Sutton

The museum, in Church Street, features many of the items she collected over the years although it is currently closed because of the impact of the pandemic.

The Sutton and Wawne Museum and Family History Centre in Church Street, Sutton
The Sutton and Wawne Museum and Family History Centre in Church Street, Sutton

Mrs Rhodes was also a member of several Hull and East Yorkshire choral societies, singing in many productions over the years.

A tribute posted on the museum's website said: "All the volunteers here at her museum wish to express our extreme sadness at Merrill's passing, and convey our deepest condolences to her husband Peter and all her family. We are all thinking of them.

"This place, its whole essence and being, is as a result of Merrill's inspired leadership of what became in time not only a major project for her but also a most valuable asset to Sutton on Hull and the wider district.

"As well as writing her acclaimed book on the history of Sutton and Wawne detailing the many family links between all the farming and business families, her beloved Resources and Exhibition Centre was also instrumental in saving this Old School for posterity in that it found another and enduring use.

"Merrill truly was an inspiration, and has been sorely missed here since 2015 when she retired from running the museum on account of her failing health.

"She was a regular visitor, though her last visit to us, along with Peter, was just before Christmas, in 2019.

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"We can only express our gratitude for the legacy Merrill has left us and renew our efforts to re-open her museum soon and take her local history ideas onwards, to be able to inspire future generations of local children and older residents to find and treasure their own heritage."

Pupils at Sutton CoE Primary School rehearsing a scene from Oliver! in the 1970s

Museum volunteer Rob Haywood added: "Merrill will be particularly remembered for her close association with the present St James Church of England school on Dorchester Road , as she hosted many classroom visits of younger pupils to show them their school’s former building.

"A shy lady and somewhat reluctant to be in the limelight, she was in her element presenting a lantern slide show on Sutton and Wawne history, or hosting many other class visits of other schools in the district.

"She leaves us a wonderful legacy, and will be most fondly remembered by many people, young and old, not least by her many friends and volunteers of St James’ Church and the museum she founded."

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