Helen Hoyte obituary

<span>Helen Hoyte was committed to generating interest in the costume and textile heritage of Norwich and Norfolk</span><span>Photograph: none</span>
Helen Hoyte was committed to generating interest in the costume and textile heritage of Norwich and NorfolkPhotograph: none

My mother, Helen Hoyte, who has died aged 100, was an expert on the shawl-making industry of Norwich, and wrote a book on the subject that included her own beautiful illustrations.

Helen first became interested in Norwich shawls when, after retiring from art teaching, she met Pamela Clabburn, whose family had been involved in shawl-making in Norfolk since the 19th century. With Pamela and others, in 1989 she co-founded the Costume and Textile Association to promote interest in the heritage of Norwich and Norfolk, and to encourage research into its various facets.

It was as part of that effort that she wrote The Story of the Norwich Shawl in 2010, a book that did much to rekindle interest in a forgotten chapter in the history of the city. Appointed an MBE in 2015, she remained active in the association for the rest of her life as an honorary life president.

Helen was born in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, the only child of John Hay, a printer, and Jemimah (nee Murray). From an early age she lived with her family in Chancery Lane, central London, and went to the City of London school for girls. In 1941, when she was 18, the family home was destroyed in the Blitz, and she and her parents moved to Edinburgh, where she gained a diploma at Edinburgh Art School and stood out as a superb textile designer.

Afterwards her father insisted that she should train as a teacher, and so she did a two-year course at Moray House School of Education and Sport. Once she had qualified she took a job as a textile designer at the United Turkey Red company in Balloch, next to Loch Lomond.

However, after less than a year there, she became a peripatetic art teacher in Edinburgh, visiting various schools by turn. After meeting and marrying Grahame Hoyte, a tea planter, in 1951, she moved with him to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), where they initially raised me and my brother, John.

Returning to the UK in 1957, they settled in north Norfolk, where Helen taught at North Walsham school for a year and then switched to Thorpe St Andrews comprehensive school in Norwich. During her time there she was part of a talented staff team producing musicals and plays, making her mark as a costume designer and later doing the same voluntary work for the local Claxton Opera company for more than 20 years. Her costume design portfolios are now housed in the Norfolk Archive.

After her retirement from Thorpe St Andrews in 1985, aside from her book on Norwich shawls, Helen also wrote and illustrated The Strangers of Norwich (2017), about the Dutch and Walloon weavers who helped to revive Norwich’s textile industry when they moved to the city in the Elizabethan era.

Her marriage to Grahame ended in divorce in 1976. She is survived by John and me.