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

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