It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of our dearly loved colleague George Mudge. George joined Tavistock College around 30 years ago as a ‘county cleaner’. He very quickly became part of the Tavistock family and was quite a character. There is not a member of staff who, today as we come to terms with our loss, has not got a funny ‘George’ tale to tell. It was only two days ago that he was helping me rescue a bird trapped in the Refectory. This was done in his own unique style, and using his own inimitable language!
As a caretaker, George got to know everyone. Colleagues have said over and over that they ‘only spoke to him yesterday’. That was George – going about his work in a productive and friendly way. It is utterly heart breaking to think that we will never again see his cleaning trolley rumbling along, or hear his broad Devonshire accent resonating through the corridors.
Despite his hard life spent caring for his parents and more latterly his sister at home, George never forgot to be kind. There is a lesson in this for all of us. Never demonstrative and never egotistical, George would help with anything you asked of him and he was so incredibly compassionate with our children who struggle, particularly physically.
Linda Coe was his closest colleague. She told me this morning “I only had to ask George once for something and he would do it. He always had a smile on his face and time for everybody. He was a dear colleague who was so supportive of me. I do not know what I will do without him. He was my mainstay.” She added “ Who is going to go and collect the dead rats on site now….and throw them at me!” That was George. She went on to describe his love of nature and his turkey farming. He was certainly a country boy at heart. Maybe that’s why we would lose him in the run up to Christmas? The least said about that the better.
George was very proud of his work. He loved his job and he loved Tavistock College. We loved him. To lose a man like that at only 57, has rocked this school today. Simply, George was our friend. The condolences have rolled in from Governors, ex-colleagues and others. We appreciate them all. His passing is not only a loss to the school but also a loss to the world .We cannot support each other in the way we normally would, but we can still remind ourselves that we are not alone, even in our most difficult times and most challenging days. Whilst many of you have seen it before, I would like to share this.
The man doesn’t know that there is a snake underneath. The woman doesn’t know that there is a stone crushing the man. The woman thinks: “I am going to fall! And I can’t climb because the snake is going to bite me! Why can’t the man use a little more strength and pull me up!” The man thinks: “I am in so much pain! Yet I’m still pulling you as much as I can! Why don’t you try and climb a little harder?”
The moral is— you can’t see the pressure the other person is under, and the other person can’t see the pain you’re in. This is life. We should try to understand each other. Learn to think differently, perhaps more clearly and communicate better. A little thought and patience goes a long way.
We are all pushing hard for success. George’s passing reminds us that empathy, kindness and compassion must also be part of our journey together.