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News > RGS Alumni News > A Life Well Lived

A Life Well Lived

Hundreds gather in Perrins Hall to celebrate the life of Mike Ridout.

The School Community came together on Saturday 26 October to celebrate the life of Mike Ridout (MJR) who taught at RGS from 1978 until 2014, and who had served as a Trustee of the Foundation since 2016. More than 250 visitors braved dreadful weather to pay their respects this genuine ‘one-off’ gentleman whose trademark efficiency and professionalism was underpinned by a great sense of fun and the sincere warmth he showed towards all those whose lives he enhanced. 
 
Tragically, Mike was killed in road traffic accident in August 2019 while cycling in rural South Africa during his year-long post working for VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas). Mike’s family had held a private family funeral service and the School was pleased to be able to facilitate their wish to host a Memorial Service in Perrins Hall. 
 
Former RGS colleagues, school alumni, their parents and many others who knew Mike from his lifelong passion for distance running and his volunteering at Croome Court, all joined together to remember the Mike they knew and to celebrate his immense contribution to the lives of so many people. 
 
MJR dedicated his entire professional career to educating the pupils of RGS in the Geography classroom as well as on the sports field, notably in Cross Country Running and Athletics. The Headmaster welcomed everyone to a packed Perrins Hall and shared how Mike had been personally extremely supportive of him as he took over the reins at RGS. Mr Pitt also remarked how much Mike would have enjoyed the England Rugby team’s victory over the All Blacks that morning. Mike was passionate about Rugby and Skiing as well as Running.
 
After hearing about his younger years from family members, the role he so willingly adopted as favourite uncle to his nieces and nephews and about his serious running career from a University friend – Mike’s personal best for the London Marathon was an incredible 2 hours 36 minutes – it was the turn of RGS memories to be shared. 
 
Howard Groves who taught Maths (1982-2011) spoke of the impact Mike made on the staff Common Room and the energy he brought to both the Geography department and the Athletics squad. Howard observed that this enthusiasm never diminished over the 36 years and that Mike took change in his stride. The return to independence, the ending of boarding, the move to co-education, the merger with the Alice Ottley School; Mike adapted and embraced the changes finding opportunities rather than hurdles. 
 
Richard Swindells (1988-93) and Laurence Greenway (2001-10) each offered personal perspectives of Mike as the teacher who significantly influenced their education. For Richard, Mike was the teacher who mentored him after his arrival during Year Nine when his family moved to Worcester. Mike’s reassuring presence helped Richard to achieve his academic potential as well as develop his love of distance running. Such was Mike’s positive influence that Richard’s parents became personal friends with him. Mike had stayed in touch with Richard after he left RGS as he did with so many pupils because of his sincere interest in their lives.
 
Laurence described how Mike’s natural enthusiasm for Athletics, his attention to detail, an unwavering dedication to the team ethic and his mischievous sense of fun combined to make participation so rewarding. Mike encouraged pupils to try out disciplines and to discover new events. Whenever the RGS team needed points at an Athletics competition, pupils would get a tap on the shoulder from MJR followed by an invitation to ‘have a go’ at throwing a javelin or jumping hurdles. At times hilarity ensued but always points were collected which meant the team triumphed, including the memorable occasion when RGS saw off Eton College.
 
Guests enjoyed a photo montage of a man who will be sorely missed by the School Community to the tune of Chariots of Fire and other tracks inextricably linked to Mike’s sporting passions. Jerusalem was belted out and the service ended with several minutes of quiet personal contemplation of Mike accompanied by Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ played by John Wilderspin (1980-2011).
 
A reception was held in Main Hall and old friends and colleagues shared happy memories of a very special man. 
 
Mike’s family has requested that any donations made in his memory be made to the Foundation of which he was a Trustee, to support bursary places or hardship funding because both were dear to Mike’s heart. Gifts can be made online on this website or by contacting the Foundation Office.
 

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