Geoff Tennant - Promoting access to mathematics for all
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18/6/16: goodbye, Pete

Peter Cyril Tennant
30th July 1962 to 16th June 2016

It is with considerable sadness - and shock - that I tell you that my eldest brother, Pete, died suddenly on Thursday evening.  The earlier part of the day had been spent much as normal - working, cycling, arranging for the car to be fixed - and then very quickly it was all over.  I would be grateful for your thoughts and prayers for his wife, Carolyn, their offspring Ashley and Lissie, our parents Cyril and Chris, our other brother Mark and his wife Wendy, and many other family members and friends who are feeling the loss very acutely.

Growing up with two older brothers, 3 years and 18 months my senior, was 'interesting', with very much the ups and downs, joys and sorrows, pleasures and frustrations you might expect.  Two incidents stick in my mind from our childhood.  One was when I complained that, just because I was the youngest, I always had to go at the back of the communal bath.  Pete responded that, when I was older than him, I could sit at the front.  It was some considerable time after we had stopped taking baths together than I came to realise the flaw in this deal from my point of view.  Irritatingly, I never got to be taller than him, either.

The other was when we were in the back of the car on a motorway, likely with me in the middle, another source of endless arguments.  We were passing the time by taking it in turns to close our eyes, then the others would say something like, "A red lorry is coming the other way" and the one with eyes closed had to say true or false.  So, when it was my turn, Pete said, "There's a grey car coming past" and I said true, to which Pete said, no, the car - which was indeed predominantly grey - had a red stripe on it.  It did not occur to me at the time to contest this, and indeed thought, "Yes, real grown up game this, you have to be really precise."  It was years later, some way into adult life that I found myself thinking about this incident - goodness only knows why - when I came to realise that had I said false Pete would have again told me that I was wrong.  I don't think I ever confronted him on this childhood injustice - and in heaven we might have other things on our minds....

(Parenthetical thought: when I was living in Leicester I did some Sunday School teaching at Holy Trinity Church and, during this time, there was a training session for the leaders in which the facilitator asked for a show of hands for those who thought the lot of the oldest, middle or youngest child in a family was the toughest.  As you might expect, there was a reasonably even spread for the three options.  By some remarkable coincidence, it was exactly the same show of hands when we were asked who WAS the oldest, middle or youngest.  One might reasonably consider that we are a long way from John Rawl's 'veil of ignorance' as considered in this blog post....  End of parenthetical thought).

Pete trained in special education and then taught in special schools in London and Cheltenham, with very much the blend of tough love, thickness of skin and sense of humour needed to make a success of this.  As mentioned in this blog post, when my time to start teaching came, he gave me some advice which has stuck with me ever since. Since the late 1990s he has been running a small business looking to provide schools with ICT support in the management of special educational needs, initially with the writing of individual education plans and then more general support since then.  It was largely through Pete's work that my interest, from an academic point of view, in special educational needs, and through this link met school teachers using his software and speaking very highly of the extent to which it supported their work.

Pete and Carolyn married back in 1988 and it has been a great joy to see Ashley and Lissie from babyhood to great young people, a great credit to Pete and Carolyn for which they can be extremely proud.  Pete's passion for working with children and for spreading the Christian gospel came together in one particularly notable initiative, in successfully getting hold of a large amount of Scalectrix equipment and setting up a "Dads and sons" club in a church hall.

I last saw Pete when he and Carolyn took me to lunch in Gloucester as a late birthday present when I was in the UK back in September.  We were in touch by email only last weekend as I was trying to get him to do a small amount of consultancy work, using his knowledge of running a small business to help somebody else.  Alas, that is never now going to happen.

So, goodbye Pete, thanks for everything, sleep well and see you again in due course.  Just one final thing: if I end up living longer than you, will I be able to sit in the front of the bath in heaven?

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