I’ve been thinking hard about who has inspired me so far in my life and I think my late dad, not unexpectedly has influenced me most. A hard working, fiercely passionate Welshman, an original and innovative thinker who immersed himself in his work as a schoolmaster. He was a self-effacing man who saw potential in all his students and led initiatives to develop people who had been written off by the education system. He wasn’t in favour of elitist approaches and was as concerned about the distance travelled by an individual within the constraints of the educational framework of the day. He was an advocate of developing approaches to suit individual needs – thus academic achievement wasn’t his sole measure of success and he supported the introduction of vocational achievement and comprehensive education. The students he developed valued how he valued them as people.
The quote above was written at the front of Dad’s work on recording the family history. It says to me something about respecting our forebears and future generations and leaving a meaningful legacy. It also says something to me about valuing people and seeing ourselves in the context of our culture, heritage, environment and everything that makes us who we are – recognising diversity.
Dad sacrificed career success for maintaining his principles and values which made him my hero time and again. His motivation in life was not to amass great wealth – just enough income to afford a house and home and to fuel his addiction to the smell of new cars – albeit affordable ones, and to have made a difference to people who would otherwise have been more disadvantaged.
I cannot think of anyone who has influenced me more.