Friday, November 19, 2010

Remembering Graham – One year on

Stoke Mandveille School remembered Graham on 12 November with an assembly for the junior children, present and past staff, and others who had been part of the traumatic events of a year ago. We were all delighted that Towe, Graham’s father and his sister Jane were able to join us to mark this special occasion. Matt Ashmead, the new Headteacher, linked the event to Remembrance Day and the poppies which are a reminder of past events. The children could identify with this as they see on a daily basis all the tangible reminders around the school of what Graham had done for them and the areas which are dedicated to his memory – the library, the mini bus, the courtyard garden and the outdoor activity area. Year 6 children compiled a book of their memories of Graham - some of which were read out - and this was given to Towe as a permanent reminder of the event. There were some very moving tributes- both happy and sad – and there were tears and laughter. David Jenkins, the Methodist minister who had taken Graham’s memorial service in Stoke Mandeville church, then led the rest of the assembly, which included one of Graham’s favourite hymns and a special song, and there was time for everyone to reflect on the Graham they knew and loved. The school is moving on – and Graham would be pleased about this as he always wanted the best for the children – but this was a very special day which gave everyone time to stop and reflect and come together to share their memories of a much loved and greatly respected man.

Pat Aylett

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Not How Did He Die, but How Did He Live?

Not, how did he die, but how did he live?
Not, what did he gain, but how did he give?
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of birth.
Not, what was his church, nor what was his creed?
But had he befriended those really in need?
Was he ever ready, with a word of good cheer,
To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
Not what did the sketch in the newspaper say,
But how many were sorry when he passed away?


one year

It's a year to the day since graham died.

Sorely missed but always fondly remembered.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Remembering Graham Walk - 3rd October

Park and meet at 10:30 am at Ladymede School, HP17 0XP, which is on the west side of the A4010 between Princes Risborough and Stoke Mandeville. The entrance is opposite the War Memorial. Park on the drive (either side) or in the small staff car parks in front and to the right of the school building.

If you would like to come, please email

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering Graham Walk - 3rd October

There will be a special Remembering Graham walk near Great Kimble, Buckinghamshire on the morning of Sunday October 3rd 2010. This walk was Graham's favourite local walk, and it is a very special place for the family.

The walk will start at 10:30 am and takes approximately 2 hours. We are asking for a donation from each walker, which will be split evenly between three charities - Winston's Wish, Teacher Support Network and the Child Bereavement Charity. We suggest a donation of £5 per walker.

If you would like to join Towe and girls on the walk, please email me on with the number of cars and walkers who intend to come and I will let you know where to park and meet, and details of how to donate.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Memorial Afternoon at Stoke Mandeville Combined School

On 9th July, Stoke Mandeville Combined School held a memorial afternoon and picnic for Graham, and to celebrate the completion of many of the projects that Graham had started. Towe and the children were there, along with Ken and Betty Hollows. Here are some of their photos and Towe's own account of the afternoon.

It was incredibly powerful and emotional. It was a celebration of everything Graham had done for the school & the projects they have finished on his behalf since he died. The children were lovely - so welcoming and talked about Graham all of the time. They clearly adored him and he is a very big part of their school life even though he is not with them.

The projects they had completed were the library, the play area (the chaps brought the bench to school the week after Graham died and gave it to the school), the courtyard, the reception area and the stage lights (after he'd got the staging blocks last year).

There was a picnic for the whole school. The parents & grandparents arrived at 2 pm and had tours by the year 6s of the completed projects. Just before 3 pm everyone went down to the bottom of the field where there was a net of blue & white balloons - one for every child in the school in the school colours. Some words were said about all the lovely things Mr. Hollows did for the school and how much he meant to everyone in the school, there was a minute or two of silence & then the balloons were released. As they flew over the school everyone clapped and cheered for him.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Thame 10k results and photos

Congratulations and well done to all 20 runners who ran for Graham on 26th June in the Thame 10k, raising over £2,000 for Winston's Wish and Teacher Support Network. It was very moving to see all the Remembering Graham T-shirts, watch the runners release balloons and above all witness the supreme effort by lots of people, some of whom have not run before and took it up specially for this event.

There are official photos on

but here are some of the team during and after the event.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Six months on

Today it is six months since Graham died. Graham loved the carpet of flowering bluebells in the Spring. This picture was taken in 2006 at Gravetye, West Sussex.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Thame 10k

Preparations are going well for the 16 people who will be running the Thame 10k in memory of Graham on Sunday 27th June. We believe that there are still a few places left, so be quick to register if you are still keen to take part. Towe is very grateful and appreciative to all Graham's friends who will be running.

It would be great to see as many people as possible to cheer on and support the team on the day. They will all be wearing a commemorative Remembering Graham T-shirt. The race starts at 09:30 at Thame Leisure Centre and finishes at the same place - we recommend that you go to the start/finish or Thame High Street (fairly near the start) to cheer on the team. If you would like to wear a Remembering Graham T-shirt, please contact Rick and Becca Bolt at by the June 2nd. The cost is not known but is expected to be in the region of £10.

The course route is on the following link:

Some of the runners are raising money in Graham's memory for Winston's Wish or Teacher Support Network - if you would like to contribute, go to one of: for money to go to Winston's Wish, or for money to go to Teacher Support Network.

James Milne completes half-marathon

James Milne completed the Reading half marathon on 21st March in 2 hours 15 minutes, raising a total of £1,586 in memory of Graham for Winston's Wish and a further £1,020 for North Wilts Portage. All he has said so far is "that it was much harder than I anticipated but I managed to keep going, knowing that it was all for such good causes, and with thoughts of Graham driving me on."

Well done James, and he passes thanks to everyone who supported him.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Teacher Support Network - in memory of Graham

Teacher Support Network (TSN) has recently been in touch about how they plan to use the fund set up in Graham's memory. Graham donated regularly to TSN for 10 years - we don't believe he ever had to use their services but he believed strongly in the need to support teachers in their work. The recent court case of Richard Garner has also highlighted the need to detect and support issues with wellbeing in teachers, and the increasing importance and volume of support provided by the Teacher Support Network.

Using the funds raised in Graham's memory, TSN is launching an online guide to for headteachers to help them look after their own wellbeing and actively facilitate the wellbeing of their staff. You can look at the guide - which is still under development - at the TSN website: by following the links to Lead By Example.

For more information about the Richard Garner case and TSN's role in supporting teachers see

Friday, March 5, 2010

graham and towe's baby...

Eirin Maya Grace Hollows was born on 4th March 2010, at 10.16 am, weighing 3278 g / 7 lbs 3.5oz.

Eirin is a beautiful, much loved & welcomed baby, and Towe and Eirin are both well.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tribute from Katy Roberts, aged 11, ex-pupil of Stoke Mandeville Combined School

Mr Hollows was a kind and considerate man, and a brilliant headmaster, during the time that he was at Stoke Mandeville Combined School. Things quickly improved for the school when he arrived, we got a new shelter and a new school minibus and not only me, but many other people could tell that Mr Hollows had a great future planned for Stoke Mandeville Combined. What a tragedy that it was cut short.

Mr Hollows was greatly involved with not just what the teachers were doing, but the children as well. In summer, when we were allowed to sit outside, instead of spending his lunchtimes in the Staff Room, he would sit and eat with us, and I always found that he was incredibly easy to talk to. He would join in with school activities, and at Christmas in 2008, he performed a fantastic Bruce Forsyth impression, as he hosted the school talent show, the Y Factor.

When talking in assemblies, Mr Hollows always seemed to have a humorous story to tell or a good memory to share with us. Whether it was a story about his two young children, his wife, his previous jobs or his friends, they were guaranteed to make us all smile. One story that I particularly remember was one that he told, I feel I would like to share with you. Mr Hollows was at a fancy dress party for one of his friends, and he had come dressed as a clown. He remained sober throughout the evening, and apparently was one of the only people who did. Because of this, when a friend of his got hurt, he had to escort them to the nearest hospital A & E. Having not had the time to change his clothes before doing so, he managed to get quite a few strange looks from passers-by as he walked through A & E with a hurt man dressed as a clown.

Another memory of Mr Hollows that I have is when our class went to Dartmouth for a residential trip in Year 6. He was the supervising teacher in my group, and wasn’t afraid to try out some of the activities. One of the activities that he participated in was canoeing in the River Dart. There were three people to a canoe, and I was in a canoe with two of my friends, and Mr Hollows was in a canoe with two other girls in my group. During the session, we had to complete all sorts of challenges, from racing across the part of the river that we were in, to swapping places in the canoes without falling out. All being roughly the same weight, my friends and I in our canoe had no problem swapping places. But when it was Mr Hollows’ turn to move, because of his difference in weight to the two girls, it caused the canoe to sway terribly, causing the two girls to scream for all they were worth.

I feel that Mr Hollows was a great help to me, and from when he first arrived to when I left Stoke Mandeville School to join Aylesbury High School, he was thoughtful and caring. He will be missed by everyone not only at Stoke Mandeville School, but by everyone who knew him.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

football and discos...

Mr Hollows was a lovely man. I knew him as he was my teacher in lower juniors about 15 years ago. He was very well respected by the students. In fact, he was like your cool uncle, you wanted to be a good student for him. Mr Hollows was in charge of the school football team which I played for. He was brilliant at motivating the team and consoling us when we lost!

I was able to stay in touch with Mr Hollows after I left John Hampden as he was in charge of organising the school discos which I ran. I remember fondly, as I was setting up at one of the parties, he was showing a new Swedish colleague round the school - Towe! My way of welcoming her was to play Abba's 'Dancing Queen'!

Rest in peace Mr Hollows.

Mark Ansell

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Calling all runners ...

On Sunday 27th June 2010, Thame will be holding it's annual 10km run.

A few people have already suggested that they would like to run in memory of Graham, and we are looking to assemble a team to run in his memory and raise money for the charities that Towe chose. The race is popular and has a good turn out (about 1000 runners of all ages, shapes and sizes). Extensive running experience is not a pre-requisite (but it helps if you have done a little training in advance!). The course is flat, and largely traffic-free.

So if you are a keen runner, or even a not so keen runner, and would like to keep Graham's memory alive, why not join the team on June 27th?

If you would like to register, follow this link:

and use the search facility at the bottom of the page to find the event: Thame CPM 10k. The fee for entering is £14.00.

We recommend that you don't delay as the event is popular - entry will close when they have reached a fixed number and there is no entry on the day. It would be great if you are also able to raise some sponsorship, but the important thing is to run for Graham. Even if you don't feel you can raise sponsors, or have already entered and are raising money for another charity, you can still join the team.

Once you have entered, simply contact Rick and Becca Bolt at to confirm that you will be part of the team, and to coordinate sponsorship. On the day we will issue you with an official team t-shirt to mark this exciting event. Towe is delighted that this is possible and we hope you will be keen to run for Graham and to support Towe and the family, on the day after Aila's 6th birthday.

Friday, February 5, 2010

graham's birthday...

As many know, today - February 5th - is Graham's birthday. Towe and the girls are marking the day by remembering him, and having a meal of some of his favourite things to eat.

Why not join them in remembering Graham today with a takeaway curry, a glass of champagne or by just setting some time aside to recall some happy memories...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

memorial word cloud

[click the image for a better view]

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cherished memories and happy times - remembering Graham by Juliet Bawtree

So many cherished memories about Gray that I can only scrape the surface here. Over time though, I’ll make sure I recall them with Towe, the girls and his friends.
One thing Graham was not was just one of my best friend’s husbands. He was a very dear friend in his own right such that in retrospect, I think he was probably my most constant male friend. I have to thank Towe as when she met and married Gray, I gained an incredible friend. Our old friendship was not watered down in any way. It was amazing how quickly they became the fantastic “G&T” team that it is difficult to recall not knowing Gray so well if that makes any sense.
However, I will never forget first hearing about Towe (AKA ‘Bird’) & Gray’s budding friendship over a glass of pre Christmas bubbly in 2000 at what was, back in the day, an old ‘Birds’ haunt on the Kings Road. Towe had a real sparkle in her eyes when she told me about Gray. On being told about the age gap, his grey hair and the fact he was as deputy head, her mentor, I merrily challenged her feelings as being a ‘schoolgirl’ or rather ‘teaching assistant’ crush! A story that Gray (the ‘silver fox’) found hilarious. How wrong I was though and that became apparent very quickly. Indeed, I changed my tune completely after only having met Gray once so that by April 2001, I told Towe that I thought he was the one for her and that they would marry.
I met Gray just the once before I went to Oman in April 2001. We were both helping Towe move to her little flat in Thame and I was struck by how compassionate, calm and kind he was when quietly helping out with putting up bookshelves and sorting things out. When the hard work was done, we had the first of many lovely meals out all together and thought Gray utterly charming and could really feel the warmth between them.
Despite the fact that I was living in Oman during the early years of the G&T courtship up to and including their wedding, I was made to feel so welcome each time I came back and visited them in Thame. It was then that we set up the tradition of a Bird shopette and lunch whilst G had a bit of time to himself (catching up on the football in those days!), followed by the three of us sharing a bottle of bubbly and having a good old catch up. This included the Birds fashion show sporting our (well, mainly mine!) latest purchases from Bicester Village. A lot of men would have bored of this but Gray joined in enthusiastically coining the phrase “So how much did you save Bird?!” With Gray’s excellent maths, he would tot up the grand total pretty quickly and we’d celebrate what fantastic savings had been made! Occasionally though, he would raise an eyebrow and exclaim that it was a rather small item for the price tag! Gray certainly had an eye for style and his input was always most valuable.
Over the years, I’ve been privileged to have spent so many happy weekends chez Hollows. The traditions remained. Once the girls arrived, Gray would without any grumbling, delight in taking them swimming and shopping or perhaps sitting down and introducing them to the Saturday afternoon football, whilst Towe and I had some Bird catch up time. I much looked forward to those weekends. We always had great times together usually involving delicious food, wine, bubbles and perhaps some Strictly in the Autumn. The photo attached of Gray with the Birds was one such evening captured with the self-timer that Towe is a master of. Gray loved (I think and hope!) catching up on the Bird gossip over a chilled glass of bubbly but we’d laugh when a glass or two of wine and a delicious meal later, he’d get rather sleepy signalling time for him to happily head off to catch up on kip leaving us to chatter into the early hours. Sunday morning breakfasts chez Hollows were a triumph with Gray’s fantastic pancake making. A treat for us all! I always felt so relaxed and welcome that I didn’t feel like a guest with G&T in Thame becoming a bit of a second home.
The day after I moved into my little ‘nest’ (as Towe calls it), the G&T team were the first friends to come over armed with wine and goodies. They enthusiastically arrived with Aila who was a babe in arms then and didn’t mind a bit that together with my parents, we had to have a makeshift lunch surrounded by the chaos of hundreds and hundreds of boxes. Both then and over the years, Gray seemingly happily volunteered his DIY skills and helped with a variety of things from setting up my monster of a TV from Oman to mending my broken desk and wobbly loo seat!
The only one condition Gray ever imposed was that I make a curry (much to Towe’s horror!) just once. I had to compromise with Towe and make it a mild one but we had a lovely relaxed evening so much so that by the time we sat down to eat, it was about 11 pm and Towe ate in her pyjamas! There was never any fuss when they all stayed over with the girls sleeping in my wee study room. Many a person would have baulked at staying over en famille in my little place but it was never any trouble and Gray always joined in with the Bird twitter and banter- a true friend!
My last weekend stay with G&T in September was not unlike any other in that as ever, it was lovely, fun and relaxing. However, it was poignant that I spent more time than usual with Gray as being the early stages of the ‘Pip’, Towe was not feeling great. Gray, a techno whizz as far as I was concerned, counselled me carefully on the new TV purchase I was about to make, proudly demonstrating his new Panasonic that Towe had got him as a birthday surprise. Gray’s enthusiasm was catching and it didn’t take him long to persuade me to go for the bigger (32”) screen. After all, it was only £10 more than the 28”! I was slightly concerned it might be too big for my sitting room but to Gray’s credit, when it arrived, it fitted perfectly!
It’s so terribly sad that we were all blissfully unaware of what was about to unravel just a couple of months later. When Gray took me to Haddenham & Thame station together with the girls, we were joking away waiting for the train. I could never have imagined that waving back with a goodbye through the window at a smiley Gray and the girls, was a permanent farewell.
Graham as a funny, self deprecating, ever supportive and empathetic friend, will never be forgotten. Writing this blog has been difficult but remembering Graham will never be.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Over £1800 raised for charities at Memorial Service

The total amount raised as a result of the memorial service was £1893.12. This has been divided among the two charities - Winston's Wish and Teacher Support Network. Towe and the charities send thanks to you all for your generosity.

Both charities have set up a fund in Graham's name so that any further fundraising can be added to the total above and we can continue to both keep his memory alive and raise money for them. So if you decide to make a donation, or do a fundraising event in Graham's name, please mention his name when you donate and it will be added to the total.

James Milne is doing a half-marathon in April for Winston's Wish (in Graham's name, so this will be added to Graham's fund) - if you would like to sponsor him, please visit his Justgiving site: