Since writing this blog I have had a TEDx talk published. I mentioned the late, great Mr Wickens in it.
Yesterday I shared this post on my Facebook about Mr. Geoff Wickens, from Reading, Berkshire. He passed away after a long, difficult fight with cancer.
Today, firstly a teacher, an inspirational educator, who kept a calm, consistent classroom, always. Set challenging and exciting homework and explained content with such focus and precision. He was known for his amazingly neat writing, his superb displays and his passion for excellence. As the Head of History I will never forget when he used to get our classes to dress up in Victorian clothing, run the castle competition and so many other amazing activities that he kept going despite the demands of the curriculum.
He was then my Head of House; Castleton. Where both Phil and I represented Castleton house for him in every House event he was in charge, from Year 7-11. I even came in on Eid once to play house table tennis to ensure I did not let him or our House down. He honoured us both with the very first House Personality Awards, which still takes pride of place in my parents house. We did it for him. We wanted to win, because he showed us a teacher winning fairly when you work hard for it, is good, its nice and its what you want!
He took us on amazing trips, like the House Boat Trip, for many of us, it was the first time we had ever been on a boat! He also took us to watch what was my first ever cricket match at Sofia Gardens in Wales to name but just a couple. He gave us unforgettable childhood memories. All thanks to him putting in his time, outside of his work time to give us these chances.
He was then a sports coach, my first ever cricket coach, who had faith in me, told me to open the batting and allowed me to do so for every school game from year 7-11. He shaped and moulded my ‘sporting’ career. He even got me Berkshire Trials, where he offered to drive me there personally. He supported me and the other players even after we left school. Always. He helped me with my coaching qualifications too, ensuring that I repaid that support by then getting me to support the younger generations. I played with passion for him. He kept hand written records of each and every single one of our scores. Every single game we played. He then presented our averages, hand written again at our end of Cricket dinner, which he hosted, where most of lived to ensure we could all come. Will never forget his statement, which we are still shout. ‘As Mr Wickens says, catches win matches!!!’
He introduced me to Woodley Cricket Club, where I saw his amazing talent as an actual player, he had ended his career, many years ago in the Berkshire Cricket League with an all time average of 43.18 runs and with Woodley Cricket club of an average of 53.07 runs!! I watched him play in awe, wishing I could be as patient, as crisp, as good. I also watched him wicket keep with such finesse and ease! He, was and still is one of the best. He will never know the pride I had when I opened the batting with him! I didnt tell him. I was ‘too cool’ to let that on whilst batting alongside him. Knowing, he taught me everything I knew. (Also, an amazing Hockey player too- he did try getting us into that too with Mrs. Oke- but we never did manage to get into it!!)
He then became a colleague, when I joined Bulmershe School as a teacher. I shared his tutor group, him and I now working together. Never could I call him by his first name, simply because of respect. And utmost affection. He continued his love for widening students cultural capital by organising trips to theatres, ice skating and so on. This time I accompanied him, rather than checking me off his meticulous list. He took me to watch Zoo Nation- Hip Hop and the Nut Cracker then outside of school, as colleagues.
When I left working at Bulmershe and his initial battle with Cancer began he continued to show dedication to all by become The Bulmershe School Alumni lead. Dedicating time and energy even in poor health to reuniting students together to share their successes and triumphs together. All for no gain. But to see others smile.
Finally, he, Mr Geoff Wickens became a friend. A man I knew outside of school. I read his Facebook statuses with joy. He loved life. He marvelled at natures beauty and encouraged us all to ride/walk and appreciate our surroundings. He wished me well in my relationship which he saw develop, he made an effort to get to know her too. He wrote a hand written card at every promotion we were fortunate enough to receive.
There will be no other kinder, selfless, sporting, intelligent, patience man I will ever know like I did Mr. G. Wickens. With a heavy heart I say goodbye, in your passing you leave a legacy of love. I would like to pass my love to your daughter who from a distance I’ve seen grow and your partner and family.
I want everybody to know how much you meant to me. I want to share my regret that despite saying over 10 times and organising it with friends, colleagues and my cricket team I never came and said goodbye. THOUSANDS of other young people you had an influence over are in shock now too. RIP in Mr Geoff Wickens, tommorow you were due to retire from the profession, your send off was planned, I was to attend to say hello. You and your love of Borehamwood Football club will never be forgotten. Not by me anyway.
You may or may not have bothered to read all of the above about a wonderful teacher and the impact he had on my life. Nevertheless what I found even more amazing reading about Mr Wickens in numerous Facebook posts/tributes/messages and so on was that every single student or colleague or friend of his that wrote about him, wrote as if he only focussed on them. As if he dedicated all his time and passion into them solely. Which led me to think, but how? It also made me think before me, during my time with Sir, how many other students he had shaped or was shaping. I am thinking how was Mr Wickens able to do this, show everyone care and affection. Be determined and committed to everybody. For instance I read about another student, who he also coached into being a captain and opening bowler. I read about how many students who were in his tutor group that state they couldn’t have asked for a better tutor. I read about colleagues that started teaching under his guidance and mentoring are now extremely successful both in terms of their posts and practice.
He dedicated his entire teaching/life to the betterment of his students. But, what was exceptional and truly remarkable was that he made everyone feel like they were the most important person only. Mr Wickens taught in the days before labels, he got to know us, what we needed and provided it. He was the MOST understated teacher ever, the most traditional, straight forward man ever.
He has left me thinking…
The best teachers make their students feel like they are there for them and them only. They make their students feel priceless, but not at the cost of supporting any other student at the same time.
He has also made me really want to be able to have people write kind words about me, I want to have had that much of an impact on peoples lives. But the challenge will be doing it because I want to, have to, feel I should, or just because that is who I am.
Mr Wickens, was that person. A kind, caring soul.
Thank you Mr Wickens.