Think not how they die, but how did they live
Last week we said goodbye to a much loved colleague - this is my address to the school on Friday 5th March.
We come together here through a school year for a variety of different reasons. Some joyous, some less so. Some in celebration, sometimes to remember. We come together today to remember one of our own.
Mr Holes came to Riverside in 2016, after an excellent UK career where like many of your teachers, he had been a leader. As Head of Faculty he had successfully managed a large team of teachers across 5 subject specialisms. As brother in law to Riverside Physical Education teacher at the time, Mr Baldwin, he was welcomed with open arms.
One of his supporting references from 2016 simply stated:
‘Mr Holes is a valued colleague who I recommend to you without reservation for this position. He is enthusiastic and passionate about his subject enabling students to have high quality experiences within this area.’
Amen to that.
Mr Holes died on Thursday 18th February aged 40. Too young, for a man of such rich talent. Too young for a much loved colleague Too young for a loving husband and devoted father
Mr Holes was a keen sportsman and fitness fanatic, further compounding the challenge in processing this news and the shock felt by the community over the last two weeks.
Mr Holes was a much loved teacher here with a vibrant and vital character. He was an important part of our community, as indeed his wife Ami and two daughters are still.
I can recall early meetings with Mr Holes when I arrived in 2017. He always walked straight towards me with a broad grin and an outstretched hand.
His firm handshake was not an attempt to ingratiate, just an expression of this genuine and welcoming character. You remember people like Mr Holes, they make an impression on everyone.
Over the years I got to know a committed professional with a real passion for doing things well. Mr Holes lived life to the full, gave his all when in school and gave just as much to life outside of lessons.
In his own time he designed and built his own products, bringing his subject to life. Many staff own something Mr Holes designed and made whether it be a chopping board, a bar stool, a wedding present or a gift for a family member. Mr Holes also built bespoke camping vehicles and was in the process of renovating a property in France.
He loved his rugby, and his motorbike. In days gone past we might have referred to Mr Holes as a ‘man's man’, as he liked traditionally male pursuits.
But this overlooks the kind and sensitive individual who always asked ‘how are you’ like he really meant it.
Beneath what seemed to be a granite like exterior which could intimidate the untrained, was a gentle and caring man - his friendships were deep and warm and will be sorely missed.
Grief can impact people in a variety of ways, and as such there is no right or wrong way to deal with this tragic event.
Mr Holes had seen his fair share of grief too, losing both mother and father in recent years. Mr Holes dealt with it stoically, but not in a silly or old fashioned way.
The emotions he was feeling through those difficult times were close enough to the surface for us all to see. So my guess is that Mr Holes would be fine with our show of emotion today. I reckon he’d be fine with stopping lessons to say a few words about him too. I reckon he’d even be fine with us all reflecting on his impact on us all.
Mr Holes showed us that life should be lived. Enjoy each day, and get as much from it as you can. These statements seem obvious and yet we find ourselves procrastinating and delaying things all too often. Today is our opportunity to stop and remember but also begin the process of moving forward.
I’ll finish then with what might have been a Mr Holes team talk on the rugby field; work hard, commit everything you have, don’t waste a moment
but most of all, stick together.
It is us who need to stick together now as we move forward without Mr Holes. Thank you for everything you did for us. We will miss you, and try to do you proud.