A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode
Brian’s former friends and colleagues are invited to leave comments about their memories of him. If you wish to, please also email any photographs or video that we can include on this site.
It was with tremendous sadness that I only learnt of Brian’s death yesterday and I am indebted to Richard (Barton) for letting me know. It’s a tragedy for me, not only learning of Brian’s death, but also because I had planned on visiting him in next few months. To say that Brian was an inspiration to me is a huge understatement.
People often say that you never forget your favourite teacher, but Brian transcended that for so many people, myself included. He was my primary school teacher at Christ Church Juniors in the late 1960s and was always everyone’s favourite teacher. I have vivid memories of all the teachers there and particularly Miss Evans who could almost turn you to stone with one of glances when you were not doing your work; another one who springs to mind is Miss Kemp, whom all the kids in our class believed had a soft spot for Brian.
He had a very different way of teaching and had a talent for making you think you were the best in the class and could achieve anything if you put your mind to it. I remember he was a brilliant storyteller too, often regaling us with stories from his early days in Guernsey. Perhaps more than anything, I remember him being an exceptionally kind and generous person and every single evening before finishing at school, he made us bow our heads in the class and recite an evening prayer, the one which begins – ‘Light in our darkness, we beseech thee oh Lord’. I can still recite every word of that prayer even today. On another occasion, I recall that we all had to learn the words to the Magnificat, with Brian explaining why the words were so special.
Brian also had a great sense of humour, which appealed to everyone and every so often he would write a number of words on the board and then explain what they all meant. On one particular April Fool’s Day, he caught us all out when he had written up a few nonsense words up and then asked the class to all recite them. Needless to say that when the nonsense words were spoken back by the class it came out as ‘You’re all April Fools!’
On another occasion and only one, I received the school punishment of being wrapped across the knuckles with a ruler by Brian, after a few schoolmates and myself had gone into someone’s back garden without permission in search of some conkers. The lesson I learnt that day from him was a vivid one: always be true to yourself; kind to other people and never take anything from anyone that doesn’t belong to you.
When our class left Christ Church in 1968, to move onto secondary school, I remember that we all clubbed together in the class to buy him some farewell gifts. The one that really sticks in the memory however, is the single of Mrs Robinson by Simon and Garfunkel, a particular favourite of Brian’s, which he sometimes used to sing to himself in the classroom
In 1994, some 26 years later, I wrote to Brian explaining why he had been an inspiration to me and why I had tried to follow those values that he had instilled in all of us all those years ago. At this time, I had been a police officer for 19 years and was working a lot in primary and secondary schools and had decided, when I had completed my 30 years service with the force to become a full-time schoolteacher: it was totally down to Brian why I had decided to pursue this path. I qualified as a History teacher in 2005 and continue working and hopefully inspiring, young people in school to this day. It was no surprise to receive a lovely letter from Brian in response, inviting my wife and two young daughters round to his house. Typical of Brian, he had had a special cake made for all us and had dug out some old photographs from the past. Incredibly, after all that time that had passed and all the children he must have seen and taught during that period, he could recall not only myself, but all of the names of the students in the class. He even remembered my father’s occupation!
It is a very special memory to me, that coincidentally at the time of writing my initial letter, Brian was just about to be inaugurated at Gloucester cathedral on October 12 1994 as a Deacon and he invited my family to attend, where he blessed us all.
Following that day, I saw him a few times at lectures he gave about Tivoli to various social groups and we chatted about the past, but we had mainly kept in touch through Christmas cards. It was so typical of Brian that two years ago, he informed me that one of my classmates from 1968 had died; how he had remembered that we were in the same class together all these years later, still continues to amaze me.
Amongst my most treasured possessions, are two primary school reports written by Brian, that whenever I read take me right back to those special times, which shaped my life. The world is very much a sadder place now that he has passed away, but the website is testament to the people he inspired when he was alive. God bless you.
Keith, I think we must have been in the same class at Christ Church. I left the school in December 1967 as my family moved to North Yorkshire but Mr Torode had been my teacher for the third and fourth year of primary years. I’ve never forgotten him as he was the only teacher in my whole school life who I felt inspired by and whose words and teachings have stayed with me all these years. I was talking to a friend about him on Monday and decided to google his name. I was amazed at what I found. Of course, I’ve known nothing about Mr Torode or my old class mates since leaving the school in 1967. I had no idea how old Mr Torode was or if he was still alive, but having found this site now I feel so sad that I have missed the chance to tell him what he had meant to me as a very unhappy child who hated school. I remember Miss Evans too! And Miss Kemp and our conviction that they were sweet on each other! All a very long time ago……………….
While researching the internet, I was delighted when I accidentally came to this page about Brian Torode. He was also my teacher when I attended Christchurch Junior School from approximately 1965. He was an inspiration to me and brought the very best out in me and I will be forever grateful to have known him in my formative years. My best friend Tracy and I kept contact with him and used to pop in for a chat when he went on to teach at Gloucester Road School. We lost contact over the years but when Tracy passed away in 2013, I managed to contact Brian to let him know; he was very sad to hear the news and said he would attend the funeral. It was so lovely to see Brian there, albeit at a very upsetting time but he said for me to contact him after as he had photographs of us both taken while we were at school, all those years ago! Before I had chance to see Brian, I read in my local paper that he had passed away; how I regret not having the chance to see him and reminisce about such happy, wonderful times. I will always have my memories and will be forever grateful to him for the hard work he put into helping us youngsters on our way in life. RIP Brian, we will always remember your kindness..
Linda, I can remember you being in the same class as me. I think it is Tracy More (Moore?) too you are referring to, who was one of the first girls I ever had a crush on! I also remember that she went to Chelt Tech High in 68, the same school as me. She is also the student I referred to who had died in my earlier post.
Fortunately, I contacted Tracy through The School Reunion web site many years ago and managed to catch up with her via emails about the old times. I was very sad to hear she died recently.
They were great times looking back and great to hear your memories then are as vivid as mine. Brian really was a great inspiration to so many people. Keith
Hi Keith, so lovely to hear back from you as it’s cool to have a school connection that is a nice memory! I hated school to be honest but with the friendship of my friend Tracy and the moral support from Brian Torode, I managed to get through it in the end! I have a vivid memory of you one time when we were asked to write something with a funny undertone… I always considered myself to be a dummie when it came to doing anything creative but I do recall when I think you read yours out in class; it was a whole story themed with the name of cigarettes ie Picadilly, Kensington, Embassy etc and it was absolutely brilliant! Tracy & I were so envious you had thought up such an original and inventive story using cigarettes, a now frowned on subject! We both knew then you were destined for better things as we could never have thought up such an idea, so well done! It is such a shame we didn’t all get together before the loss of Tracy and Brian as I am certain we would have all got along really well, what with our fab memories of our times at Junior school. I know I could kick myself as when Tracy passed away, her son asked if I could contact Brian to let him know and with the possibility of him taking part in her funeral service; unfortunately, this had all been arranged by the time I had made contact with him so it never happened. All I can say is that when I saw him and we hugged, I felt such happiness and it brought all the good times back for me, he was forever youthful and did not look any different to me, still tall, handsome, full of love and with a true heart, bless him. We may have lost these special souls in body but I am so happy and blessed to have known them as they were such a big part of my life. It was ironic that Brian passed away so soon after and I never had the chance to meet up with him and see all the school photos he had of us all. Anyway, I hope life has treated you well Keith, (funny enough, my youngest son is called Keith!) it has been so nice catching up with you and our memories, take good care, Linda x
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