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Eulogy for Yvonne Martin – November 13th 2017

Yvonne was, quite simply, a fantastic teacher, a woman dedicated wholly to her students, to their success not just academically but also in terms of their development as young men and women.  She was gentle and kind of nature and always concerned for the wellbeing of her team and the rest of the College staff.  She was open and honest and very determined too, always willing to stand up for what she thought was right and just.  She had a passion for her profession and was one of the best teachers that I and my colleagues have ever worked with because her enthusiasm, her energy and her wholehearted commitment to her students knew no bounds.

Yvonne studied Business Management at Salford University, leaving with a first class honours degree in 1994.  She headed south to Middlesex University to complete her teacher training qualification and started working in September of that year.  After periods at Barnet and Uxbridge Colleges she joined St. Dominic’s Sixth Form College in September 2007 as Head of Business and ICT.  Throughout her time at St Dominic’s she built the department into one of the most successful in the College which encompassed business studies, economics, ICT, computer science and various BTEC programmes.  She was very popular with her immediate and wider colleagues and I know that Pav, Frank, Rose, Howard, Neil and David were very fond of her professionally and personally.

Yvonne was at the heart of her team – from leading them professionally to being a supportive friend, she’s left behind a legacy which will never be forgotten. 

Her colleague and friend, Pav Gill writes:

“When she was diagnosed, she had decided that she did not want to be remembered by us as just a teacher or a colleague, but for all of her quirky characteristics – and there were lots!  Yvonne should have been a paid advocate for the Rickmansworth Festival, or the Ricky Fest as she lovingly called it – she was a walking, talking marketing campaign! After promoting it endlessly (and hopelessly) for 5 years to us all, she finally managed to get many of us to join her there this past summer for one final time. She had the dodgiest taste in music – she would let you think that she was into cool music festivals and jazz but was in fact caught out many a time in the office listening to 80s cheese, including lots of Phil Collins’ hits.

She had a passion for yoga and was a qualified yoga teacher – she shared this love with many students, often giving up her time to run yoga sessions to help them de-stress. Unfortunately, even after years of putting it on some performance management reviews, she never did manage to persuade any of her team to don our lycra and join her.

She was a big kid at heart – from her love of ‘Percy Pig’ sweets, using the excuse she bought them for Aiden and Amber, to her weekly cava nights with her mum, something she looked forward to every week, she managed to share her love with everyone around her.

Yvonne had a tattoo which accidentally revealed itself at work and from that day on, she was given the ultimate accolade any teacher could ask for – she was the “cool” teacher. Both respected for her professional diligence and admired for her more adventurous side by all her students.

And that is how we will continue to remember Yvonne;  free spirited, caring and loving, but at the same time strong headed, driven and committed.  Her presence will be deeply missed by us all but her spirit will live on within each and every one of us.”

We have very many lovely memories of Yvonne.  She loved the College, her colleagues and the many friends that she had made over the 10 years she was with us.  She always asked how things were going and even looked out for me as a new principal when I took over from Patrick back in January 2013.  She had a lively personality and a really lovely smile that I will remember and hold in my heart in the weeks and months to come.  The College has most certainly been a darker place without her presence these past few months.

And so there is little else we can say about a colleague that was so universally popular, taken so soon from us and in such difficult circumstances.  I know that she fought very hard over the last 17 months, and her spirit, optimism and desire to ‘keep going’ never faltered although I could tell that in these final months it was getting harder and harder to do this, physically and emotionally.  We welcomed her back in June to College for a fundraising concert and it was wonderful to see her looking radiant – she told me that was the ‘chemo glow’ but not to let on to anyone! 

Our final chat was the Tuesday of Half Term and we exchanged texts on the Sunday before she moved to the hospice.  As she had always been throughout her illness, she was honest and open and acknowledged that everything was becoming increasingly hard for her.  I found her truly inspirational not just in these final weeks and months but in all that she had achieved in her life, a teacher and leader and particularly as a devoted and loving mum.  As Principal I could not have asked for anyone better to have as part of the staff in everything she did, she was just an absolute delight.  It is these things that I will remember most about her.  As a staff, we will miss her enormously, we will continue to pray for Gavin, Amber, Aidan and Kaye and most importantly, we will remember her always. 

 

May She Rest in Peace