Yesterday I heard that the headteacher at Grace’s former school had died. He was a lovely man who leaves behind a wife and 4 children and I am guessing he was around my age or a bit younger. Apparently he had suffered a heart attack on the school premises after school hours and the ambulance crew couldn’t revive him. Coincidentally, Grace had had her first swimming lesson after school and then we had picked up some food shopping and, when we came past the school on our way home at around 6.30pm, I saw an ambulance at St Bartholomews with it’s lights flashing and mentioned it to Grace. I asked if they had after school activities and we both discussed the fact that may be one of the footballers had injured themselves. Nothing more serious than that.
Many of the children at Grace’s current school had attended St Bartholomews and so, in their assembly yesterday morning, their headteacher told them the sad news. There were tears from many of the children, including Grace, and they all had fond memories to share. Molly, one of her friends, came for tea after school and when they got home they shared they thoughts with me – Grace had tears in her eyes and we had a really good cuddle before her bedtime.
Ever since I’ve been trying to work out why I am so very upset, and I’ve been analysing whether I’m entitled to grieve over someone I knew but not so well as to be on first name terms. I used to find it funny that, like the children, I called him Mr Carter whenever I greeted him, like I was still at school. But you know what? I am going to feel sad about him and here are the reasons why.
I had a huge amount of respect for who he was and how he ran the school. He was such a personable man who used to stand at the school gates both in the morning and afternoon and greet all the children by name. I was always so impressed that he had taken the time to get to know every single one. Whenever either Ross or I contacted him via email, he was always very efficient at getting back to us and answering our questions. He had time for people.
He would always get involved in dressing up for themed days and regularly made balloon animals as a gift for children who had done well as well as making them at the school fetes. He used to arrange lots of great surprises for the kids. I can recall the first Christmas that Grace was at the school and how he had arranged for Father Christmas to arrive by helicopter. It was a really impressive feat. He took great delight in getting involved in the photo booth I ran for the Leavers Party last year and, when Grace left, I knew that he would be one of the members of staff that we would miss.
The next time I spoke to him was when we realised that it had not been acknowledged that Grace had 100% attendance for her last school year. I informed the school and so, Mr Carter rang me when Ross and I were in Alicante back in July for our initial consultation with IVF Spain. He took a look at the records and it turned out that the register had been marked incorrectly for the day that she had been at Church attending the Leavers Assembly – something that I took photographs of. He was extremely apologetic and said that he would ensure that Grace got her certificate and something extra by way of an apology. When we got home, there, on the doorstep posted by hand, was an envelope with Grace’s name on it. It contained the certificate together with lots of stickers and pencils.
The school was understandably closed yesterday and is again today. I really feel for all the children who knew him and St Bartholomew’s Church is currently open to any member of the community who wishes to pay their respects. There will also be counselling available for any one affected by his loss when they return to school on Monday.
I was looking forward to seeing him again when our boy started school there but, alas, that isn’t to be. He was one of the good ‘uns, is a great loss and will be sadly missed.