An East Yorkshire primary school says the legacy of a much-loved and admired teacher who recently lost his battle with cancer will live on.
Martin Wood, of Tickton, had spent most of the previous six months in Castle Hill Hospital when he sadly passed away, two days before the start of the autumn term.
Headteacher at Molescroft Primary Michael Loncaster said breaking the news of Mr Wood’s death to the school community had been “the hardest letter I have ever had to write”.
“This sort of thing is not supposed to happen,” he said. “One thing is certain, the spirit of Martin Wood will always be with us.
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“His legacy is built into the foundations of what it is to be a Mole and lives in the hearts of all who worked with him and every pupil he taught.”
The school is now dedicating its annual fundraising appeal to Macmillan Cancer Support in his memory.
It is also nurturing a new green space planted with trees and bluebells – The Martin Wood – on the school site, to commemorate the father of two.
Devastated staff and pupils decided to raise funds for Macmillan in appreciation of the charity’s support for Mr Wood, his wife Zoë and children Fred and George.
With the constraints of the coronavirus pandemic, the school planned a special Telethon event, with each class providing an “act” for the online show, which ran to about two hours and included a Teacher’s Got Talent segment.
A charity single featuring all the children was also launched at the show, with sales from downloads going towards the cause.
Mr Loncaster said Mr Wood was known for his upbeat personality and creative force in the school, whether it was teaching in class or at school occasions, being renowned for his organisation and “hilarious” commentary of its sports events.
“Our sports days under Martin’s direction took on a life of their own,” said Mr Loncaster.
“We all waited with anticipation for his special contribution to our International, Christmas and history events.
“He could reinvent himself for any occasion – I believe he invented Horrible Histories, way before anyone had thought of the idea.
“We remember fondly his Roman legionary and his Viking warrior; he had the hair and beard for that.
“He was Martin the chameleon, whether the bumbling Professor Montmorency, King George VI, Michelangelo or even performing Riverdance at Teacher’s Got Talent.
“He also did the little things - the dinner blackboard to advertise the menu for the week, was a work of art in itself.
“Martin’s humour never left him, and he remained positive throughout.
“His devotion to the children and the craft of teaching was exemplary. He was a champion for our aims, our values, our ethos.”
The school shared its Telethon show via a link on the school website, and launched the charity single, Right There With You, with words and music written by Mr Loncaster, at the event.
“Talent and entertainment shows were always a huge part of our charity fundraising programme, we’ve had to be even more creative than normal this year,” said Mr Loncaster.
“You can interpret the lyrics of the song in three ways – it’s the Macmillan nurse talking to someone they are caring for, or it’s the child at school who is being comforted after falling over or feeling sad, or you can read into it from a personal perspective as well.”
The school’s JustGiving page in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, which had an original target of £1,000, had surpassed £6,300 this week.
“We will be adding everything together on December 18 and announcing what we have raised for Macmillan then,” said Mr Loncaster.
The development of The Martin Wood has seen 500 bluebells planted by pupils, which will be interspersed with 14 different trees, provided and planted by staff and governors.
“It was the idea of Martin's trainee student last year,” said Mr Loncaster. “We train teachers and David McEntagert was based with Martin and learnt the craft of teaching from the great man.
“The wood is near to the playground so that we can see it easily in all seasons – Martin would have loved it.”
Mr Loncaster said: “2020 continues to knock us all, but we are a strong and extremely close team supported by the most amazing community of Molescroft.”