Jennifer Longford, née Stevenson, has died at the age of 82. After graduating in English at St Andrew’s University she trained as a teacher and was posted to Tabora Girls’ School in 1955. She fell deeply in love with the country and made lifelong friendships, notably with fellow teacher Peggy Fowler (later Elwell-Sutton) who recently died at the age of 98. On Christmas Eve 1955 Jennifer was invited to dinner at the Governor’s Lodge in Lushoto. Sir Edward Twining’s private secretary, Michael Longford, opened the door to her and, he later wrote in his book The Flags Changed at Midnight, “as soon as I saw Jennifer I knew at once that this was the girl I was going to marry.” He proposed in a rainstorm ten days later, and on their marriage in June 1956, he took up a post as District Officer in Tabora to enable her to go on teaching. They later moved to Mahenge and then to Lindi, where Michael was District Commissioner, finally returning to England with their three children in 1962.
Jennifer continued to teach at her local secondary school in Surrey, but she and Michael never lost their love for and interest in Tanzania.Later Jennifer returned for a visit, the highlight of which was being reunited with some of her former pupils. She was delighted to be asked to teach her eldest grandson Swahili before he went to work at an orphanage in Arusha, and last year her silver wedding present to her elder daughter, Ruth, was an unforgettable trip, with her husband, to the country where Ruth was born. Michael died in 2005, after 49 years of very happy marriage. Jennifer continued to live in their Surrey cottage, with friends and family nearby, until her own death in March 2012.