As part of Black History Month, Foster Hill Road Cemetery shared the story of Pearl Clareta Thomson, a much-loved educator who taught at Queens Park, Kingsbrooke and Westfield Schools and who set up the Miracle Church of God in Bedford.
Pearl Clareta Thomson was born on 1 June 1917, in Portland on the island of Jamaica. She was an intelligent girl, but just as important was her natural ability to communicate with others.
She had a genuine interest in helping other people. As was the system at the time, she was taken on as a “pupil teacher” so that she could learn how to educate younger pupils.
Pearl was successful and devoted herself to teaching in several schools in Jamaica. She married Donald Thomson, also from Portland, in 1948.
In 1954 she went to New York to study and her husband emigrated to Bedford, joining relations who already lived here. Pearl came to Bedford in 1956.
Her first love was still teaching, so she applied for retraining at Bedford Teaching College and became fully qualified in 1961.
She taught at Kingsbrooke Junior, Queens Park Junior, and Westfield Schools. There are still Bedford residents who might have been taught by her and remember her encouragement to every pupil that they should always try to do their best.
She is thought to have been the first West Indian teacher in Bedford. She never resented the fact that despite being qualified, she had to start all over again to achieve the qualifications needed.
Pearl even had to sit her GCE exams again, despite having achieved one of the highest scores on record when she sat them in Jamaica.
She never said it was prejudice against someone who was a foreigner, black, and a woman.
In 1961 she was one of the main people responsible for establishing the Miracle Church of God in Bedford. It was (and still is) a lively church, full of hope and joy with members still sharing in Pearl’s firm and sincere faith in God. And happy to tell the world about it.
She died on 19 December 2014, and her funeral was a joyous occasion, with the community marking the departure of a respected and senior member with Thanks and Praise.
It was perhaps one of the most uplifting events seen at the cemetery.
Pearl is buried with her husband who died 10th September 1983
by Adrian Bean and with grateful thanks
to the Foster Hill Road Cemetery’s website