Dave Collins, the glue that made our school a team

'He will leave a big gap in our lives, there is no doubt he will be missed, but never forgotten'

Monday, 31st January — By Viv Preston

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Dave Collins

OUR friend and colleague Dave Collins, who taught at Parliament Hill School and LaSwap for 30 years, died on December 22 in the Royal Free Hospital.

He started his teaching career in 1974 teaching geography and then helped to develop BTec and Vocational Studies across all four schools in LaSwap, eventually becoming an assessor and consultant in this area of education.

Apart from his ability as a teacher, Dave was a great organiser, from jumble sales to carol singing round the streets and pubs of Hampstead in aid of the Royal Free’s children’s wards, raising thousands of pound over the years.

He loved to sing and from this and other musical events he helped to set up the PHS/WES (Parliament Hill and William Ellis schools) parent and teachers choir many years ago, now the popular North London Chorus, in which he still sang when health permitted.

In his time at Parliament Hill, Dave had been a committed member of the PTA and also a teacher governor. He also set up Neighbourhood Watch group in his home area.

Dave was involved in many activities for the pupils, from taking annual pony trekking weeks in Wales with Louise Bisset, field trips for geography with Gill Pellant and spending time at Sayers Croft in the days when all of Year 8 with 25 per cent of staff would go for a week. He was brilliant at cheering everyone up after a long day tramping up Box Hill in the rain.

Dave enjoyed good relationships with staff and pupils, was efficient in what he did, and always did it with humour. He could be so funny – leaving and retirement speeches given by Dave were always worth listening to.

If he saw problems he tried to do something about them – he made things happen. He could be “bothered” to write very long and detailed letters sometimes, and take matters further.

He helped to make the school a cohesive unit, crossing boundaries of departments – he was the “glue” that made the school a team.

After retirement, his most recent concern was hospital transport (he used the service for his dialysis) and how frustrating it could be for those waiting hours to get home. His long letters and emails had some success and he was thanked by other patients for his efforts.

After his wife Sue’s death in 2014, Dave’s health, which was never good, deteriorated, leaving him almost housebound. He refused carers in spite of his many visits and stays in hospital.

Life was very difficult, but he had the determination to cope and thanks to very good neighbours, friends and family, he managed to stay in his own home.

Even to the end he enjoyed being social, having “soirees” in his garden inviting friends and neighbours round for a drink provided by him, but bring your own food.

David Collins will leave a big gap in our lives, there is no doubt he will be missed, but never forgotten.

His funeral is at 11am on January 22 at Golders Green, funeral cars will pass PHS at 10.20am.

Viv Preston,  the author of this obituary, is a friend and colleague at PHS

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