A (temporary) farewell to a hero.

Doug Belshaw and Keith Belshaw

We didn’t take the footpath to the terminal; he’s always taken the path less travelled. He didn’t turn around as he strode purposefully to the gate. I didn’t cry. We all knew it was inevitable.

A month away from retirement he announced he was off down to London.

“What for?”

“An interview.”

“What, for a job in London? I thought you were retiring!

“No, a consultant job in Abu Dhabi.”

I laughed, thinking he was joking. He looked up from the laptop upon which he was booking his train tickets. It was at that point I knew that not only was he not joking, but that he would indeed be spending some time in the Middle East. He’s never done things by halves.

He didn’t get the consultancy role. He’s a teacher. Having tried his hand at Senior Management for a good fifteen years he’d returned to the classroom for the last ten of his career. It’s where he belongs. He’ll be team-teaching, working alongside native teachers in the United Arab Emirates on behalf of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT). I’m not sure you can teach enthusiasm and passion, although he’ll do his best to try!

It’s hard to measure the impact this man has had on my life. But it’s a lot easier to write down your feelings rather than say them. He was my junior football manager, the Deputy Headmaster of my school, and when I was younger a superhero. Without always needing to say anything he’s guided me through lived example. He’s certainly not perfect, although upon reflection I’ve realised that the times I find him inappropriate can usually be put down to his exuberance and zest for life.

His M.Ed. spurred me on to do my MA and now my Ed.D. Until a few years ago I assumed that accumulating degrees and job titles would be enough; enough to command respect and guarantee a safe and easy passage through life. It’s not. The number of letters after your name and/or job title is irrelevant. It’s what you do with your life that counts. He’s ‘walked the walk.’

It’s common to trot out the platitudes and trite phrases when a teacher nears the end of their career about the ‘number of lives they’ve touched’ and ‘lives they’ve influenced.’ I wish no-one had ever said these things before so I could apply them for the first time here. It’s never been more true.

So here’s to you, Dad. This is for all the times I should have said ‘I love you’ but haven’t. This is for the times I’ve got annoyed and snapped at you. And this is to let you know that even when you weren’t talking, I was learning from you.

God speed. 🙂

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