As you can imagine, this is a rather hard blog post to write.
2020 has not been a good year, for anyone much, and certainly not for us, with my sister Ruth dying earlier in the year, and John increasingly ill and eventually dying on 19th September.
Since that fateful day the weeks passed in a flurry of legal, financial and practical actions/decisions and planning of the funeral service. But thanks to our wonderfully efficient and helpful ‘children’ we got everything done in time, all the while hampered by, but complying with, the strict Covid regulations surrounding nearly everything we had to do.
Thereafter everything went as well as it possibly could, under the circumstances. The funeral at Chesterfield Crematorium, taken by our very good and long-term friend Colin McGarrigle, on Thursday 8th October, was very moving but very uplifting at the same time. Knowing that hundreds of friends, relations, colleagues and ex-pupils and their parents were taking part virtually at the same time gave us great support as well, and then so many of you raised a glass to John at 8 o’clock that evening…
Don’t get me wrong, I always was so proud of John, and knew that he had been a great sportsman, a well-respected and very successful schoolmaster with many friends and a great flair for taking photographs, but nothing had prepared us for the outpourings of admiration and love from so many hundreds of people.
We have been inundated with flowers, emails, letters, cards and emails and I can only say a heartfelt thank you to you all on John’s behalf. I will try to reply but it will take some time, and may well have to be combined with a Christmas card (hopefully a 2020 one)..
I can’t resist attaching some random remarks, taken from a random clutch of letters…
‘John was truly a good man who set a great example to all those in his care. They owe him much.‘ – Mother of a pupil
‘John was such fun and great for intelligent conversation. An honour to have known him, a stand out figure.‘ – A friend
‘I could not have wished for a better start in life than that which Bramcote gave me… John Fuller-Sessions had a rare and perfect mix of charisma, inspiration and – not often, but when, needed – discipline that made it such a wonderful place to spend those formative years.’ – A Bramcote pupil
‘Such a lovely man whose friendship and support I have so appreciated. John was one of life’s great treasures – kind, thoughtful, wise, modest, entertaining.’ – A colleague from Lichfield Cathedral School
‘He and the FS standards and pure spirit of decency and fun was a big influence on all of us boys on Filey Road in the 70’s.’ – Another Bramcote pupil
I wish he were here to read all the comments. But he was not an arrogant man, and all I could imagine is – as he did last year when his pupils at the Cathedral and John Connon School, Bombay paid him the most warm and sincere compliments as they celebrated their 50th anniversary of leaving school – that he would turn to me with a puzzled look on his face, and say, ‘I think they’ve got the wrong bloke’.
But they haven’t.