The Ruth Bate MFL Award
...... Those of you who did not have the good fortune to be taught by Mrs Bate may be surprised at how much her colleagues and her pupils have been affected by her death. What sort of person was this, who could command such deep and widespread affection? You may wonder whether, when we lose a close friend and colleague, there is a risk that we may overstate their virtues, and remember them as better than they really were.
Well let me assure you that when we recall Mrs Bate's many virtues, there is no overstatement. She was quite simply, one of the most universally loved teachers that I have ever had the privilege to know. She was held in great affection and esteem both by her colleagues and by her pupils of all abilities and of all social backgrounds.
Mrs Bate joined us about 5 years ago [1983/84] as a supply teacher - visiting the school from time to time to cover for absent colleagues. She was obviously such and excellent catch that the then Headmaster and his deputies moved heaven and earth to get her onto the permanent staff' with the result that she joined us properly in September 1984. She was clearly a highly competent linguist, very knowledgeable about her subject, very professional in her approach, with high personal standards which ensured the respect of her pupils.
But she was much more than that. She was calm, gentle, serene, unflappable, never flustered. despite her health problems she was never plaintive or downcast. Always positive, always cheerful, she sailed serenely through adversity, creating a kind of halo of goodwill wherever she went.
She displayed great generosity in her judgement of others. She responded to people's failings and misdemeanours with understanding and forgiveness, and would always find extenuating circumstances to explain why they had let themselves down. She never said an unkind word to anyone.
She was a warm-hearted, compassionate person, with a genuine interest in the well-being of all those around her - her pupils, her colleagues and of course her own family. She was a good listener - and because she really listened not only to what people said but also to the hidden meaning behind the words, she was able to offer wise and practical advice.
She was totally unselfish with her time and her energy. She made time for people, and she gave up her free time - often in the lunch hour - in the interest of individuals and groups of pupils.
And I think it's this unselfishness which most of all explains what Ruth Bate meant to all those who knew her. She was totally dedicated - to her profession, of course, but most of all, to people......
extract - Keith Wolton, 1989