09 October 2023

Rest in peace, Alex

The Head of School came into my office. He said he had something important to say. It wasn’t good news. One of our students, and, relevantly, one of my tutees, had died. That was a bit of a shock. 

The family later indicated they welcomed a delegation from the University to the funeral. I saw it as my task to go. My heart was heavy! This young man came to University, in our hands, and he didn’t come back alive. How to face the bereaved? But we took the responsibility onto us to welcome him into our School, and then we should also take the responsibility to bid him goodbye in person. 

Someone from central services organised the logistics. The funeral was in Gateshead, on the other side of the country. A coach was mustered. And I cancelled my engagements for that day. 

I didn’t know who else would be going. The small crowd that gathered at the usual pick-up point was almost entirely students. I recognised two. The chap from central services, and a representative of the Student Union, were coming too. 

When we got to the crematorium, more students were already waiting there. It was a good crowd altogether. That was reassuring. Then the funeral cortège arrived, and everyone went in for the service. 

It was a beautiful service. But hard! He was so young and will be so missed. 

There was a wake in the upstairs room of a nearby pub. There the mood was a bit less stark than in the actual crematorium. And when it came to an end, we went back onto the coach and headed back for the other side of the country. We were back in Bangor at about 11 pm.

It was a long and sad day, but the father assured me he was pleased to see so many people travel so far in honour of his son. So it was totally worth it. This day will stay with me for a long time. And I hope all our students stay safe from now on…

No comments: