Late on Friday evening, 22nd June, we heard the sad news that Eric had passed away. Eric had been involved with RSD since 2013, initially covering GCSE Business Studies and A Level Economics teaching for Mrs Straghan during two periods of maternity leave. For the last two years he had helped with GCSE Business Studies teaching as numbers grew, and he had worked two days per week with our Pastoral Team.
Eric was the consummate school master. He knew his subjects inside-out and conveyed an infectious enthusiasm for Business and Economics. His anecdotes and storytelling were legendary, especially when he mixed up brand names and the like, and he had a turn of phrase that stuck with his pupils. Everyone at RSD now knows that it all comes back to “the old spondulicks”. Not many people can turn up at the end of an A Level options talk for Year 12 and speak about Economics for ten minutes and receive a round of applause. But Eric could. He knew his subject and he knew where his pupils were in their learning; and he guided them to improve and as they did so, they grew in confidence. Eric hit the sweet spot for learning time and again and his pupils loved him for it.
In recent times Eric worked with the RSD Pastoral Team. His official title was Pastoral Support and his role was to help individual pupils by being a regular contact person they could speak to at any time to sort out problems. He revelled in this role, with his compassion and desire to help people to the fore. Eric’s values were rooted in his faith and he lived those values daily. He was the embodiment of the Christian gentleman. For the pupils the results were obvious. Eric was a mentor and guide, someone who brought light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes this was a quiet word of encouragement; sometimes it was several support meetings and lengthy chats; and other times it was a phone call to arrange something like a work experience opportunity (no one had a contacts list like Eric!). He helped so many pupils and if he couldn’t always resolve their problems he certainly made them that little bit easier to bear.
For RSD staff Eric’s loss is a huge blow. He was a force for good in our school and a role model for everyone to follow. So many of us will have our personal memories of being with Eric and simply enjoying his company, humour and wisdom. We will miss him.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Eric’s wife Isabel, his children Stephen and Heather and the wider family circle. God bless.
Dr D Burnett