Raising money for Anna’s charity (http://www.theannawilkinsonmockingbirdtrust.co.uk)

Along with the majority of pupils, friends and teachers of the Chantry, we were all deeply saddened by Anna’s death last January. To me, and many others, Anna was a special student who was always positive, cheerful and conscientious in her approach to work and just a pleasure to be with. She commanded huge respect from both peers and teachers and has been missed by us all. I know that a number of my former colleagues and pupils were deeply moved by the strength shown by the Wilkinson family at the funeral and in particular, Dr.Wilkinson’s eulogy. The excellent speech gave a true picture of Anna’s love for life and the respect she had for all those who were fortunate to know her. It would have been difficult for Dr.Wilkinson to give such an eulogy but it did a lot to help ease the emotions we were all experiencing at the time.

The Wilkinson family gave me a lovely box of gifts as a leaving present. The box contained a copy of Anna’s favourite book ‘To kill a Mockingbird’, a journal and a pen to fill in during my stay in China. The message in the card simply said that the gifts were to remind me of Anna. Needless to say, I constantly think back to the events earlier in 2016 but thankfully, I mostly remember all the good times I had as Anna’s Form tutor and her geography/geology teacher. I remember Anna’s trip to Yangzhou in 2013 and the time where I played a practical joke on Anna by asking her to take her shoes off and put them through the security screen as we entered the Print museum. Anna soon realised she was the only one who did this but saw the funny side of it and promptly, with that memorable smile of hers, hit me across my back with the shoes. The Yangzhou visit was referred to in Dr. Wilkinson’s eulogy where he mentioned how much she enjoyed the experience of the Chinese exchange.

It is because of Anna’s qualities, her enjoyment of the trip to China and my good relationship with her that I wanted to do something here in China. As mentioned in a previous blog, I did a 1,600m run on the Yangzhou sports day so this gave me the idea of doing a sponsored run here in the school that Anna loved so much. I discussed the idea with some students and they thought it was a lovely gesture so I then approached the Principal and the management team to ask for permission to do the run. They liked the idea of raising money for Anna’s charity but not the run because of my age – I guess most Chinese people of my age do not take part in running activities! The Principal suggested using some of the money raised during a Gala performance next summer but I managed to convince them I wanted to do something and I wanted to do it whilst I was still teaching at the school. It was then suggested I do 2 laps of the 400m track but, being my usual stubborn self, I wanted to do more in order to demonstrate the same qualities that Anna possessed throughout her life e.g. strength and sheer determination to succeed.

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