Yesterday after sorting out a few things at work I got back to my office at work to discover the news that Gareth Marr has passed away. It has surprised me how much the loss of a man who I met three times in total – and heard speak twice has affected me. I was teary-eyed at the news – and in tears talking about it with T last night. I really do feel like I have lost a friend – and as the many tributes on twitter have shown so do so many of us in the adoption community.
I first met Gareth at the Adoption UK conference in November 2014 although we’d been corresponding on Twitter before then about adoption and education. Education has always been something I have a passion about due to growing up as the daughter of a teacher and now bothe the sister of a teacher and working in higher education myself. I am former school governor with special interest in PP and Gareth and I connected discussing the #adoptionschooltrain.
Every time I met him he was always well turned out with his trademark hat and that deep voice. When he talked you listened. Having met him in Birmingham when I heard he would be up to speak at the Yorkshire & Humber Adoption Consortium educaiton conference in May 2015 I immeidately invite dhim to speak to the local Adoption UK support group. We even got Ralph berry – a Bradford councillor with an interest in education and social services to come along. It is an evening that will live long in my memory and one that empowered a lot of us to go and talk to our schools. He certainly inspried me – my one regret is that T never had a the chance I had to engage with him.
When the education white paper came out earlier in this year and I realised that finally it would be recognised that our children in education terms have very similar outcomes to those in care (KS2 pass rate: 49% previously in care; 46% in care compared to 75% average nationally) I thought immediately how please Gareth would be. It was a bright spot for me in what has been a pretty horrible few months – little things with Sqk and major things with my work that I will blog about another time.
Now as I said on twitter yesterday we need to ensure that his legacy lives on.