Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tribute from Pauline Latham, School Administrator, Stoke Mandeville Combined School

Tribute delivered by Pauline at the special school service on 27th November 2009

Graham Hollows was a man I enjoyed working with. As part of the office team I was grateful to him for his trust in our ability to do the job without constant supervision or intervention. He was always ready to praise those who he felt repaid that trust and was grateful for a job well done.

He was excited by his vision for the school and what could be achieved there, always striving to provide the best for the children, and aware of the staff’s devotion to their tasks and their willingness to give their time and expertise beyond contractual obligation.

In the School Office, we knew Graham as a caring, professional Headteacher, who, whilst always being careful that the decisions he made were in line with governor and county policies, also considered the effect of those decisions on the staff and children in his care.

Although Graham had been Head of the school for such a short time, we came to know his sense of humour (with quite regular outbursts of giggles!), we experienced his kindness and compassion, his down-to-earth approach to problems,his love of Strictly Coming Dancing (and the regular discussions on Monday mornings about the latest couple to be “ejected”) and his very obvious devotion to Towe, Aila and Leiva. He was so excited about the forthcoming addition to their family.

We miss him very much.

Tribute from Kim Price, Head of Hearing Impairment Department, Stoke Mandeville Combined School

Tribute delivered by Kim at the special school service for Graham on 27th November 2009.

Graham was a man of vision and purpose. He enabled the staff to develop and grow – to bring out the best in us. There are those of us who, without his care and guidance, would not have truly seen our worth or even valued skills that Graham could see within us. For that I will always be deeply grateful.

Graham valued the things that we felt were important to our school – music and singing were as important to him as they are to us. His pride in the children performing at the Albert Hall was tangible.

Graham’s sense of purpose had a lighter side – his lunch box assembly, us not knowing where he was and finding him outside eating his lunch with the children and his Bruce Forsyth “Strictly Come Dancing” routine.
These are the memories he has left with the children – for me it is the privilege to have worked with such a gentle-souled man with vision and purpose.

Tribute from Jackie Crook, Deputy Head, Stoke Mandeville Combined School

Tribute delivered by Jackie at a special school service in Graham's memory on 27th November, 2009

When I first met Graham I was impressed by how he conveyed his vision for the school. He mentioned the library, play ground, mini bus, entrance hall, nursery ... the list went on and I became excited at the prospect of working with him to achieve his ideal and was delighted to be appointed his deputy. I am grateful to have benefitted from his wisdom and knowledge.

He was calm – and kept me calm. When I was anxious about things he would ask – how tough is your skin? And then, is it any tougher yet Jackie?

Graham was an excellent head but, moreover, a real family man - he shared his obvious pride and love for Towe, Aila and Leiva with us all, talking about them often. He kept the sense of proportion real – work to live, not live to work.

He cared how we all felt and knew all our strengths, which he encouraged, alongside giving us all enough challenge to grow within our job.

I for one learnt so much in the short time we worked together and he gave me opportunities and the confidence to undertake challenges which made coming to work exciting. Friends asked what my new head was like – I always replied that he was a really nice man, a real gentleman and that is how I will remember him – a really nice man who it was a real privilege to know. I miss you Graham.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Chris's tribute to Graham

The text of Chris Saunders' tribute to Graham delivered at his Memorial Service on 7th December 2009

Take care.

Those were the words that Graham used to sign off our telephone conversations. And that one word - care - just sums up the Graham I knew. He was a lovely mixture of the careful and the carefree, he cared deeply about other people, and he loved caring.

The Graham that I first met in the late 90s was definitely a careful man. Anyone who helped him shift furniture around his house (which seemed to happen with astonishing regularity) would know that his garage was stuffed to the brim with things that he just could not throw away. His house – particularly for a single man – was tidy and clean and DIY projects were planned and delivered with painstaking perfection. Above all, he was careful in what he said. Our first conversation was actually a rather awkward one about seat belts in school buses, but he defused my passion with calm and grace. Serious conversations with Graham weren’t short, because he thought so deeply about issues from many perspectives, thought about what he would say and was then gentle and diplomatic in how he said it. His support, his counsel and his generous willingness to give time helped me through some difficult days and I am sure I am only one of many.

Serious decisions required time. When the newly-qualified Towe arrived at John Hampden School, and mentoring turned to friendship, friendship became romance, romance became love, it was clear that there was a serious decision to be made. He considered matters carefully and when he’d decided, that was a decision. The careful bachelor became the carefree betrothed. He showered her with his love and care, be it small notes left for her when he went away, a weekend retreat, far-flung trips abroad, a bottle of their favourite Veuve, the daily phone call that showed that she was uppermost in his thoughts, or just being there. He made her feel safe, allowed her to be herself; similarly she released in him a deeply romantic love, as well as ambition and purpose. They complemented each other perfectly and to us will always be just G&T.

He enjoyed being slightly and quietly different, embracing the Anglo-Swedish lifestyle with a Swedish wedding, Swedish holidays and frequent trips to Ikea at all times of day and night. He steadily became proficient in another language so he could have a private conversation with his family in a public place, or share a little joke. And he had a great sense of humour, giving fun at work and at home – playing Bruce Forsyth in the children’s talent show in school, hiding notices from colleagues for a bit of harmless fun. No pupil of his will forget Graham eating jelly babies – head first, with sound effects. One week he anonymously left two bottles of something different on our doorstep for us to find each morning – one day milk, the next wine, on the third shampoo. It was just fun, all positive fun.

And finally to Graham as a father. Given the number of children who had passed through his professional care, it is not surprising that he would make a wonderful daddy for Aila and Leiva. For them he attended every medical appointment and ante-natal scan; he sang to them before they were born (and after), he reconstructed their home in anticipation. Whenever there was a gathering, Graham was the one who went outside to play with the children; his party puppet shows – entirely impromptu – were legendary among the children of Thame. And who makes the best pancakes? Daddy. He was no reluctant provider – he loved them unconditionally and loved caring for them, while at the same time teaching them - to read, to swim, to ride a bike. We joked about the fact that the silver fox - as we called him - was a little older and greyer than the average daddy, that his retirement plans had changed somewhat, that his life had taken an unexpected turn, but the truth was he would not have swapped his new family for anything.

I sometimes wonder how much of Graham I really knew. Not because he was particularly secretive or personal, but because his selflessness meant that he focused on you first. And not just me but you, whoever you were, all of you. He put others at the centre of his life, made time for everybody, made us feel better about ourselves, made us better people. A teacher of all of us, young and old, he was the finest of men, truly a gentle man, humble, selfless, generous and, above all, caring.

Now Graham you are receiving the offer of care in another place. Take that care.

Take care.

memorial service tribute...

the text of si smith's tribute to graham, from his memorial service at st. mary's, thame, december 7th.

[with apologies for the strange punctuation]

Friday, December 4, 2009

warrior camp posting

back in the nineties graham was a leader on camps organised by WEC international.there's a small piece about his death here on the warrior camp website.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

wedding speech

the best men's speech from graham and towe's wedding day...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

john denver

way back when i'd only just met bodge i did that thing that blokes do - going through each others record/tape/cd collections and being very judgemental about what you find in there.

bodge's collection was weird and eclectic, with choral music sitting alongside the pogues and the sex pistols.

the greatest discovery in bodge's cassette drawer though was his john denver tape.
i'm not the biggest fan of john denver's music, and so i took every available opportunity to remind him of that fact and to deride him for owning it. bodge being bodge, he just laughed and played the tape anyway.

now, twenty years on, i'm putting together an audio-visual thing for his memorial...

and one of the tunes that's been chosen for this is of course, a john denver tune...

bodge would be laughing his head off, knowing that i've had to endure 'sunshine on my shoulders' playing over and over - maybe thirty or forty times already - as i try to fit the photos to the soundtrack...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tribute to Graham by Pat Aylett, Chair of Governors, Stoke Mandeville Combined School

Tribute to Graham on behalf of the Governors of Stoke Mandeville Combined School, delivered at a special service in his memory at Stoke Mandeville church on 27th November 2009

Graham’s professional qualities earned him respect from all who worked with him and his personal qualities endeared him to us all. He was very special to so many people whose lives he touched.

The dictionary definition of a leader is someone who rules, guides and inspires. As the Head of our school, Graham did all of these in an exceptional way.

He ruled – not with a rod of iron- although he could be authoritarian when needed – but by gaining trust and respect from the children, staff and governors. When the Governors appointed him we gave him a mandate to lead and manage our school because we believed that he had the professional skills and experience to do this important job well. We were not wrong. His style of leadership was thoughtful, sensitive and quietly charismatic. He didn’t rush into action or make important decisions without careful consideration and experienced professional judgement. His analysis of a situation or proposal was always thorough and his judgement sound.

He guided all of us in the school community in different ways, giving everyone what they needed to develop and be successful, The tributes and messages from the children show how much they valued his guidance and thrived on it. He guided the staff and encouraged them as professionals both individually and as a team. He guided the Governors, helping us to understand what we needed to do to enable the school to develop, and working with us to achieve our common goals. And he supported us all in so many different ways.

He inspired us with his ideas and his vision for the future. He never lost sight of the little things, the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the job, but he could see the ‘big picture’ for the school as a whole and he knew what he wanted to do to give all our children the best education and to support his belief that “Every day is a day for learning”. He was working on this vision and planning developments to support it even on the day he died. There is already visible evidence of this in the school and there will be more in the months ahead. The staff and Governors know what Graham’s aims for the children and the school were, because he shared his vision with us. In his memory we will make it happen.

Pat Aylett
Chair of Governors

Charity Donations in Graham's Memory

If you would like to make a donation in memory of Graham, Towe has asked that we support one of two charities:

Teacher Support Network (for practical and emotional support of teachers)

Winston's Wish (for bereaved families)

Please send cheques (made out to "Teacher Support Network" or "Winstons Wish") before the end of December 2009 to Surman & Horwood, Funeral Directors, The Green, Crowell, OX39 4RR (01844 351323),

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

a memorial service for graham

Monday 7th December
St. Mary's Church,
4 pm.

There will also be some light refreshments in the church afterwards. The service is open to all, and we expect it to be very full.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A pleasure knowing you Graham.

Where do you start with this sort of thing?
My wife, Michelle, and I got to know both Graham and Towe from around the time of Aila being born, following an introduction from Sue Smith. We mostly did 'couply' sort of get togethers, but there would be the occasional meet up with Graham and me in the pub, to do Blokes Talk, Graham supping his usual half pint limit! What would happen if he drank more? I'll never know now.
Graham was an instantly likeable person, exuding an instant calm, warm and humourous personality and, although we didn't get to meet up that often, we could more or less pick up a conversation where we left off.
At times, I would be sent round to either drop off or pick up something one of my children had left after a party or other get together. It would start out as a quick drop in, simply to pick up the said pair of shoes, gloves, toy or whatever, but Graham would always offer a beer and we'd sit at the garden table (weather permitting) and chat for a while. Ordinarily I'd probably get 'that stare' if I'd had that beer and chat with anyone else, but with Graham it was considered quality time, certainly for me and I hope for Graham also.
There are a couple of 'if onlys'. We were well overdue for a pub catch up. We never did get that curry in.
As a couple get together, we were due to meet up this weekend, at Graham and Towes, for a Strictly Come Dancing evening! When I was told of this, I thought "Right, OK. Not my thing, but at least I can have a background chat with Graham, while the girls watch the telly." But no, I was reliably informed that Graham liked Strictly, so I would have to muck in. Good grief!
I'm absolutely sure that the evening would have been brilliant, despite my dancing apathy, and there you have one more If Only.
To conclude, it was an absolute pleasure to know Graham. The fact that Simon, Stumpy and all the other characters have remained friends for so long is a fitting tribute in itself.
To Towe and the children, who will no doubt read this Blog page when they are ready, there are many sharing your loss and we will be there for you in the weeks and years ahead- you only need to ask.
A fond farewell Graham.


Friday, November 20, 2009

a friend forever ('bodge' the lodger) hollows

Well, when you have known someone for 25years and lived with them for 4years you get to know them pretty well. I will miss him. Graham or Bodge (because that was the name stu gave him when he was lodging at the webbs) was fantastic company. I have so many photos of him and in them he is always laughing and smiling. He was good fun to be around.

I lodged with him in the eighties I can remember buying a CD player and we spent the weekend pushing the loading disc in - it was so cool (and very out-of-date now). You knew when there was something serious he needed to say because it would be followed by - do you want a jelly baby? He loved them, there was always a pack around. watching the world cups normally meant a pack of Jelly babies about - so, England - next year at the finals lets put on a show- for bodge please! (I'll bring the jellybabies.

I've spent the last week thinking what he liked and how to thank him for enriching my life. He liked takeaways, so last weekend was curry for Friday and Saturday and this weekend I'm going to get some Jelly babies. When I can learn how to upload the photos I will put them up - there is one with Bodge on the boat (boating trip to Norfolf with the famous four - si, stumps,bodge, Bex) putting his thumb up to a starling sitting next to him and him grinning. there is another with him putting spoons in Bex's pocket on a night out with the crowd for Penny's party.

One of the things I remember was a walk in the lakes, we had got to the top of one of the hills and the view was stunning, we sat there and had some kendal mint cake and he said , "you see that stumps, that view - that's what you see when you have had a tough day a work"......... i know he now has got a great view. Bodge, friend forever.....stumps.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

john hampden and euro 96

I’ve been thinking about Graham an awful lot this week.
When I first got to know him (at John Hampden School), it seemed that EVERYONE just loved him…. staff, children (and governors!) alike. He seemed destined for great things career-wise but HE seemed to be the only one who doubted his abilities. He was quite shy and very modest about what he could and/or could not do. There always seemed to be others who were far more pushy than him who seemed to force themselves into the frame when it came to promotions - as a school governor, I can remember feeling incredibly frustrated on his behalf. But, of course, it was just a matter of time before he came into his own.
Graham was incredibly popular with pupils – who seemed to appreciate his gentle approach and his understated sense of humour.
I never EVER heard anyone have a bad word to say about him.
On the sporting front, I really don’t think the group of us who gathered round Graham’s TV during Euro 96 ever got the recognition we deserved for the unfaltering support we gave the England team over those brief summer weeks. Great memories (especially watching the England v Holland game!).
God bless Graham RIP

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

links to stuff online about graham

initial bucks herald article

si smith's blog

steve broadway's blog

a few things that will always remind me of bodge

lemon marmalade

pristine marigold gloves

the word 'jackass'

cork tiles

Sonning Common

hook norton and brakspear beers


'peace at last' by the blue nile

probiscus monkeys

Bolton Abbey

summer pudding

takeaway curries...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Graham and Towe's wedding - October 18th 2003

graham [aka bodge] march 1998