I found out yesterday afternoon that an ex-colleague of mine had succumbed to the Cancer that had blighted his life for the previous three years. He was a cracking HOD, he had all the qualities you need to be a good one, he was a good teacher, hard working (he was first in every day), funny, understanding, organized and sensible (to name just a few of his good points). In retrospect he probably should have sought medical help long before he did as he complained of pain for several years before his diagnosis and by the time he did get a formal diagnosis it was almost too late. I left just before he was diagnosed so I heard about it second hand and I remember it was quite a shock. Before he joined us we were a totally demoralized department - the previous two HODs (one was a vicious bully, the other was just not up to the job) had left morale very low. He organized and inspired us and we got some fantastic results. Not the easiest group of people to manage (to put it mildly) but he did it with ease and nobody made waves. After his diagnosis - he had some time off for treatment and for a while things went well. The cancer declined and he was able to return to school on a part time basis. I saw him around this time and he seemed fit and well on the way to recovery. But sadly the cancer eventually returned and spread further and he left permanently a few months ago. He died a few weeks ago (as I said I only found out yesterday) at home and at peace according to the person who told me. People of his quality are rare - a man who never considered his own needs would come above those of his colleagues and department. I can even forgive his terrible taste in music and he was a real gem. By some distance the best HOD I have ever had the privilege to work with. R.I.P - you were one of a kind.