I've been 'umming' and 'ahhing' about whether to write about this or not. I guess I've been worried it would be perceived as me trying to get more traffic to my website or more 'likes' on FB. It's really not. It's mostly just for me.
The Headteacher at my children's school was killed in a bicycle accident last Thursday night (8th Jan 2015). It's only a small school - but with a very big heart. And at the moment that heart is a little bit broken. It’s been a very teary few days since we found out and I teeter between feeling a bit like an idiot at being so upset, to feeling fiercly protective of his wife and 3 daughters' privacy. I've never met them, but I feel that we (the parents, teachers & students of the school) took up such a big part of his life, that we owe them that. Also a reason as to why I wasn't sure whether I would post this or not.
But over the last few days the children have been asked to draw pictures and write down their good memories of him. Even my eldest daughter, who is now at Secondary school, and her old classmates from Primary school, were taken out of class by their new school, to pay tribute to their previous Headteacher in the form of making a large Welsh flag (how he loved being Welsh - and why wouldn't you!!) and writing down their best memories of him. So I guess, this is my own form of a Welsh flag!
He started just after we arrived at this school, after we moved down from London. I took an instant liking to him. He was young (as Headteachers go), he was enthusiastic and the kids thought he was quite strict - ticked all my boxes!! They of course later learnt that in actual fact he was 'firm but fair'. Of course he couldn't keep everybody happy - but how could he? In my opinion he had one of the toughest jobs ever - not a job I would like, or even begin to think that I could actually do. Not only was he responsible for 165-ish children - in terms of their welfare, wellbeing and their education - he also had to deal with their (sometimes) ridiculous parents. I totally include myself in this category. I've come to quite firmly believe that, sometimes the worst thing for children vs children disputes is when the parents get involved. As parents, we sometimes forget to take those rose tinted glasses off - we desperately want to believe our children are telling us the truth - and maybe they are - but sometimes it's only a very small part of the whole truth!
I've spent quite a bit of time over the years in the Headteacher's office (only ever as a parent I might add - halo moment!!) - a lot of it was Swimming Pool committee stuff. The pool was in dire straits a few years ago - but with the support and enthusiasm from our Headteacher, our little community got that swimming pool back up and running and even heated - so that every child in that school could have a swim, sometimes even twice a week. He recognised it as the asset and gift that it was - to the school and the community.
I also shed my fair share of tears in that Headteacher's office. I won't lie - I'm an emotional person - and I cry. A lot. But no matter the reason, I was never judged and felt only empathy from him - when I'm sure all he wanted to be doing, was to be amongst his students, educating and encouraging them.
He will be sorely missed. And no words can ease the pain. I can only hope that he had some small inkling of how much I appreciated his time, enthusiasm and candour. And if not, I'm saying thank you now. I wish I'd said it when I had the chance. Mr T and I are constantly telling the children that 'if you don't have something nice to say, then don't say anything at all'. But I think we'll add to this... and 'if you DO have something nice to say, say it now. Say it loudly and don't wait till tomorrow. Just say it NOW.'
I've been lucky enough to have my camera at a good deal of the events hosted by the school over the years. So over the weekend I took a trip down memory lane and it was this trip and the images I found that inspired me the most to write and share this. All these pictures remind me of so many things. His favourite red jumper. His 'too short' tracksuit bottoms. His dislike for dressing up. His cleverly 'not very funny' jokes. Always the raffle drawer. And many more memories that have made me smile over the weekend. And I think that is what he would want us to do. You don't need to have known him - you'll see what kind of man he was just from the following images. Have a look, remember and smile.