First a Teacher

Posted 1 August 2019 4:00pm

The start of a semester typically brings with it a sense of possibility, giving us the courage to hope. After three weeks of rest and revitalisation, we came back to school ready to start the next stage in our life-long learning journey. The beginning of this semester however, delivered a test of resilience none of us expected.

Less than two weeks ago, as we each prepared ourselves to start Term 3, we faced a great loss. Dr Reverend Willsher, our mentor, our teacher, our friend, had passed away.

My heart is heavy as I write these words. I only had the pleasure of knowing Dr Willsher for the first half of this year. His impact as a kind, passionate, enquiring person was obvious and is evidenced in the outpouring of community emails, letters and phone calls we have received since I regretfully announced the news.

I remember when I started at CGGS, we had organised a workshop before the start of Term 1, where I met many of the teaching staff. With some degree of trepidation, I was delivering a presentation to the staff. This was the first time that many of them had seen and met me – what would they think?

I presented and from what I could tell, it went well. Then approached Dr Willsher, David. He looked me squarely in the eyes and stretched out his hand, “I like you,” he said. He said it with such conviction, as if he been carefully observing everything I had been saying and doing. “You’re our kind of person,” he continued, at once giving me the comfort of acceptance, but also showing me his fierce loyalty to the ideals and values of this great School that we inhabit.

He was our School Chaplain – but he was first a teacher. Whether it was his in-depth wisdom about the true meaning of his favourite sci-fi films, or sharing the latest piece of information he had learnt about Mother Emily – having sought out books about her from all corners of the world – his love of teaching and education was profound.

One Year 7 Tutor said Dr Willsher, "was the 'punniest' man we know." Always quick to make joke, Dr Willsher was a man who understood that the trick is not to take life too seriously, it is instead to enjoy all the ways in which life isn’t serious – to celebrate them, so when moments such as these occur, we can remember all of the happy memories and moments from the past.

Dr Willsher was a remarkable man, his life has left its mark upon everyone in this School. We will miss him dearly, but his spirit will always be with us in these hallowed halls that we walk and learn in. He, more than most, lived our values and infused us with passion and joy.

Please take the time to remember this extraordinary man.

Anna Owen