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