Judy Ratcliffe 1952
It is fitting that, as we celebrate the school’s 125th anniversary, the members of the Awards Committee of the Havergal Old Girls Association (HOGA) decided to bestow this honour on someone who has given her life to the school, been a strong and loyal ambassador for it and maintained contact with the friends she made there. That person is Judith Eleanor Ratcliffe, known to most as Miss Ratcliffe, Judy or Ratty. Judy grew up on Glenview Avenue, attended John Ross Robertson Public School–jeering, with her peers, at the girls in green uniforms heading to the school on the next block. In September 1947, she entered ‘the green school’, Havergal College, as a Grade 9 student, following her sister, Nancy, who was in Grade 13. The school became her second home. She was an excellent athlete, and the school offered a multitude of opportunities to play on teams throughout the year. Not only did her athleticism stand out, but so did her ability to lead. She was elected School Games Captain and was a Prefect in her final year and initiated, developed and ran a weekly Boarder Games with School Captain Gay Sellers.
Judy moved on to study at McGill University. When she returned to Toronto, Miss Steele asked her to coach Senior School teams. The next year, Judy also filled in for a Junior School physical education teacher who left midyear. In 1958, she became a full-time teacher in the Junior School and in 1966, she became co-head of the Physical Education Department, a position she held until she retired in June 1994.
In this position, she worked hard with the heads of Phys. Ed. in the four other independent girls’ schools in Toronto to form an athletic league that would enable them to compete at the provincial level. This league didn’t have enough member schools or students to be recognized by the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA), so Judy approached the Catholic league (TDCAA) to accept Havergal College into that association. Two years later, in 1982, it became a member. In 1993, Judy received the OFSAA Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year Award, and in 1996 she was given an award in recognition of the role she played in supporting and advancing women’s ice hockey in Ontario. Since retirement, Judy has attended every Reunion and event at Havergal to which she has been invited. She has dropped the puck many times for the opening of the Bishop Strachan School vs. Havergal College Hewitt Cup hockey game and coached the Old Girls basketball and hockey teams on Celebration Saturday.
Judy is so proud to be a Havergal Old Girl. Her generosity, unfailing loyalty and deep gratitude for all the opportunities she has enjoyed and families she has known indicate how strongly the school is embedded in her heart.