Obituary - Steve Abrahams 1953-2011
Anyone who was involved in sport in Derby knew Steve Abrahams. But even the non-sporty could spot him: a PE teacher in shorts, cycling through heavy wind and rain.
He was born in Bristol in July 1953 and from primary school onwards was an enthusiastic footballer. Inspired by his own PE teachers, he decided to combine work and pleasure, and enrolled in a PE course at Cheshire's Alsager College of Education.
His first job, in 1976, was at Allenton Junior School in Derby. He remained there until 1989, by which time the school had merged with another to become Merrill College.
Mr Abrahams quickly settled into Derby life: he played football and rugby, and ran a local football club. "Azo" became a familiar figure.
He had married not long after leaving Alsager, but it did not last. Then, in the early 1990s, he met Sarah, with whom he had a son, Jak. After six years at High View School, Mr Abrahams was appointed head of PE at St Martin's special school. The decision to move into special needs education was deliberate: he believed that all children should be allowed the opportunity to enjoy sport.
Relentlessly energetic, he was always thinking of new ways to capture pupils' interest. He would, for example, demonstrate basketball while pretending to be a monkey. And he introduced St Martin's children to boccia: a bowling-type game using beanbags in place of balls.
He also worked with nearby special schools to introduce football and swimming tournaments. Inter-school competition, he believed, was a vital way of enhancing his pupils' social confidence. For the same reason, he took pupils on out-of-school trips - for example, to Derbyshire cricket club - whenever possible. "It'll take blood, sweat and tears," he used to tell colleagues. "But it'll benefit the children."
Indeed, he was a consistently supportive colleague. In his own time, he mentored an inexperienced PE teacher; that teacher is now continuing Mr Abrahams' inter-school work.
He similarly encouraged colleagues to take part in sponsored bike rides and walks through the Peak District to raise money for school resources. Whenever he could, he persuaded families to take part, too: if parents were involved in sport, he reasoned, their children would be too. His most recent partner, Wan, regularly joined him on such walks.
He had met Wan in Thailand, and was supporting her through a series of college courses in Derby: their spare time was often spent tackling homework questions together. The couple returned to Thailand regularly, where Mr Abrahams helped her parents to build and expand a farm. On one such trip, he and Wan married.
After lengthy illness, Steve Abrahams died of kidney failure during the summer holidays.