DAVID Bennett, who was awarded the OBE in the New Year's Honours this year, has died after a long and courageous battle with cancer. He was an inspiring headteacher and a remarkable and gifted man.
Last March, knowing that his illness was terminal, he preached a memorable sermon at the Secondary Heads Association's annual conference service, linking life and death with the commitment that teachers give their pupils. His words left a lasting impression on all who heard them.
David's commitment to young people was always evident and he brought many qualities to school leadership, for which he had a strong vocation. He was thoughtful, intelligent, calm, approachable and courteous.
He began his career as a mathematics teacher and, after three years of full-time churh work with young people in Hertfordshire, he returned to teaching in Hounslow, before becoming a deputy head in Essex. In 1986 he became head of Charles Darwin school, Biggin Hill, and in 1994, was appointed principal of Sackville community college, East Grinstead.
David served on SHA as chair of the professional committee and international committee. During 1999-2000 he was an adviser to the Department for Education and Employment on international issues and school leadership. He promoted the international dimension in teachers' professional development and was heavily involved in the planning of the National College for School Leadership.
He leaves a widow, Ann, and four children.
John Dunford is general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association