The phone rang last night with a text message bearing sad news of a previous colleague. It was one of those moments when you find yourself listening to something and not really believing that you are hearing it. A young teacher who came to work in my last school about 14 years ago had died. She was 39 and died from intestinal cancer. A keep fit fanatic, her only clue that something was wrong, apparently, was that her stomach was constantly bloated. When she went to have it checked out, it was thought that she could be treated but sadly, the disease had progressed too far.
Inevitably, the memories came back from those days at school when the staff had been 'a brilliant bunch' working well together and sharing a good sense of humour. S. had often been teased for being gullible. There was the time, soon after she started with us, that I told her solemnly that the following week it would be her turn to take assembly and it was to be a minimum of 40 minutes. She listened politely, looking as if this prospect would be no more than a blip in the day and then went off to freak out, before being reassured by another member of staff that it was a joke. Then there was the time when Tracey Island was in such demand as the top Christmas present of the year for small boys that the shops were bare and none were to be had, whereupon, she decided to make one herself for her son, following the current instructions on Blue Peter, and coerced us all into collecting the relevant junk materials.
An excellent, hardworking and committed teacher, she inevitably moved on after a few years to widen her teaching experience and other new life experiences came her way. We still heard news of her from time to time and met up at courses and were pleased that she was happy and settled. Such a tragic waste of a young life.