A Wonderful Surprise

When I posted yesterday, I really didn’t know what the reaction of other people would be. In the end I’ve been bowled over with kindness and support – some of the time from complete strangers. Right now I feel like I’m walking on air. All of your kind thoughts and words have made a huge, huge difference. They really have.

Most of the people who got in touch were friends and former colleagues and I will be forever grateful to every single person for their generosity and kindness. But, two of the people who commented on my blog post are former students from way back when I used to work at a high school not far away from where I live now.

That two young people who I haven’t spoken to in seven years took the time to get in touch really knocked my socks off. So to both of you, Daniel and Adam, I want to say a particular thank you. You did something amazing. You reminded me that I can have a positive impact on the world, and people, around me. That’s a big thing and it’s lifted my self-esteem massively.

Adam’s comment really moved me for another reason though. I shall reproduce it here, because it’s so special:

Hi Mathew, you may or may not remember me, I’m Adam Stansfield, a previous student from Fred Longworth. I’m not sure whether you’ll remember that far back, or whether it was significant enough for you to remember; but it was of great significance to me. When I was in high school, I too was extremely introverted, spending much of my free time in my room to escape the realities of teenage cruelty. I was bullied. However, there was one, who was always there to listen to my pain through my tear ridden sentences. And that person was you. You helped me overcome my fears and taught me to suppress the feeling of nothingness that was a result of bullying. Unfortunately, you left very shortly afterwards and I never got the opportunity to thank you. You were a great part of my transition to maturity, and I’d like to take this time to tell you ‘Thank You’, you were truly my rock for a good year! So to hear that you are severely depressed is quite upsetting, to know that such a strong person for me, can be weakened themselves. So I’d like you to know, at the very least, that you are a beautiful person, for what you did for me, and many other students I imagine. I also hope that you make a speedy recovery! Thank you Mathew

Do I remember Adam? Do I ever. I remember a small, wiry, scruffy little 11 year old who – and I hope he won’t mind me saying this – was not always the easiest young man in the world to teach (sorry Adam!). Seriously though, and if you’ve ever worked with kids will understand this I’m sure, Adam was just one of those boys that you remember.

I’m privileged to have been a part of Adam’s life, as with so many other young people, but it just goes to reinforce the point that our experiences as children and young people really can affect us for a long, long time afterwards.

Facebook being the wonderful tool that it is (yay!) I had a chat with Adam this afternoon, and I was blown away by the mature, responsible, intelligent young man he’s grown into. To say that he should be proud of himself is to just scratch the surface, but here’s the thing: Adam telling me his story has reminded me that there really is a way out of the place where I’ve been this last year.

Adam’s comment and our chat – together with the kind thoughts and comments of so many others – has reminded me that I can pick myself up and get on with, well, whatever I choose to do for the rest of my life. So Adam, you probably didn’t realise it when you wrote to me but what you said has made an enormous difference and will continue to do so. Thank you young man, you are a legend.

Other comments

I posted this on my old, WordPress powered, blog - and there’s no way for me to bring the comments from my original post over here. So, here’s a couple of others:

Thank you so much for sharing this, I know it’s not easy. I’m so glad you managed to get help, but if you ever get to that place again please contact me. I know I’m just a random stranger, but my best friend died because I wasn’t there for him, so please get in touch if you ever need a chat. All the best x - @everywordyousay


I admire your bravery and can certainly understand your struggles. You don’t have to battle alone – there’s an army of us out there, just waiting to be called upon, whenever you need us. Sending hugs x - @brightonbipolar


I only have fond memories of you Mr. Sims. I don’t know if you remember me. It was me and joe in science. I can only say I hope you get well. I remember looking forward to science simply because you were there to make it more interesting and fun and even just to have a chat. I’m sure you contributed to making young people’s lives better in the whole. I genuinely have confidence and hope that you will succeed in defeating your illness. Good Luck, Daniel - @Daniel from Fred Longworth