Tributes to prolific Tarring piano teacher

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TRIBUTES have been paid to a great-grandmother who started her career as a prolific piano teacher at a time when most people retire.

Christaine Whibley, who lived in Tarring for more than 50 years, died last Wednesday at the age of 103, at St Joseph’s Nursing Home, in Littlehampton.

More than 20 years ago, as an 80-year-old, Christaine made the headlines in the Worthing Herald because at that time she was teaching piano lessons to an impressive 70 pupils a week.

She started teaching the instrument when she was in her sixties, from her Parkfield Road home, in Tarring, after a faulty hip operation led her to become largely immobilised.

At the time, in the article which appeared in the Herald in March, 1988, Christaine said she had been “bored” and wanted an activity to fill her time, after previously living an active life as a busy grandmother.

Her daughter, Rosalind Burholt, of Latimer Road, Worthing, said there were days when her mother was so busy teaching the piano to children and adults that she would start lessons as early as 7.30am and finish at 9pm.

Rosalind, 68, said: “Someone said to her they wanted piano lessons for their child, and she thought ‘I could teach them’.

“Even when she was 80 she had 70 pupils a week. She loved it, and I was very pleased that she had this occupation.”

Because of Christaine’s worsening arthritis, she had to retire from teaching the piano when she was 86, and spent the rest of her life at St Joseph’s Nursing Home.

Rosalind added: “She was a character and she had a great sense of humour. She wasn’t the most docile person in the world, but I admire people like that because she had to fight against adversity.

“We all loved her greatly because she was very human. She had a hard life and it’s remarkable she lived so long.”