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Much-loved spark is gone

There was a poignant gathering in a Nuneaton pub just before half term. A few friends - heads, teachers - met to toast the memory of Adrian Richards, head of Water Orton primary in Warwickshire, a much-loved colleague who had just died.

Only a few of you knew Adrian, of course. You will surely know somebody like him, though. He came into teaching in 1971, a livewire in a staffroom of like-minded young teachers, in an era when sparkiness and irreverence were valued perhaps more than they are now.

Adrian liked children and they liked him. He was a good teacher, and eventually a well-respected member of Warwickshire's community of primary heads. As someone commented at that pub gathering: "He was a good person to have sitting next to you at a meeting."

This year, though, he became unwell and he planned to leave his job in the summer. The decision made, he said he was beginning to feel the load lightening. It wasn't to be, though, and he passed away at his home on May 17, aged 55.

Adrian's death has resonated with his contemporaries. It has focused some of them on priorities - doing the things in your life you have always wanted to do, and, very particularly, paying attention to friends and colleagues. One head, hurrying in the following day to a meeting at county hall, turned around in the car park and, instead, went to visit a member of staff in hospital. Adrian would have approved.

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