Celebrating the life of Will

Being part of RHS, that 'knowing' immediate connection, is hard to describe but easily felt. When a bright light goes out too early, we feel it as a community. Reverend Dr Philip McConnell, School Chaplain, celebrates the life of one of our brightest lights, William Christmas (Raleigh 2018), and announces a special memorial to be held 13 March 2021.

It was with deep sadness that the school community learned of the sudden death of William Christmas on 19 March 2020. Will was killed by a hit-and-run drunk driver, afterwards apprehended, in Nottingham where he was at university studying Politics and International Relations.

Will made a significant contribution during his time at school (2013-2018). He needed none of the RHS leavers' well-rehearsed calls to their successors to take every opportunity. Will embraced so much of all that the school had to offer from the very moment that he joined the school; such was his carpe diem spirit, it is hard to imagine how he might have packed more in. In the classroom, he had both confidence in his own ability and humility to learn from the wisdom of others, in equal measure; he was a thoughtful and conscientious student. Among his many co-curricular activities, he was a most able debater, a talented saxophonist – he loved being in the Band - and an energetic sportsman, especially skilful on the hockey pitch. He had wonderful joie de vivre and an infectious enthusiasm for everything that was going on.

As part of the incredible Class of 2018, Will's leadership and servant heart was recognised when he was appointed as Deputy Head of School. He always had time for everyone, no matter their age or status. In so many ways, Will personified all that RHS seeks for its young people in their formative years. No doubt he was on a trajectory to a fruitful and fulfilling future. He was held in very fond affection - a popular and much-loved pupil who will be greatly missed by his fellow pupils of all ages and by the staff.

We extend our sincere condolences to his father, Matthew; twin brother, Sam; sister Becky; mother Helen, and his whole family circle in their time of loss.

A memorial service to celebrate Will's life will be held in the school chapel on 13 March 2021, followed by an evening reception and all are very welcome. We hope that there will also be a mini-hockey tournament that day. Please save this date with further details to be announced.

Reverend Dr Philip McConnell, School Chaplain

For those of you who wish to donate in Will's memory, the Christmas Family encourage you to give more children an RHS education through the RHS Centenary (Bursary) Fund.

You can become a regular donor HERE or make a text donation by texting 'RHS 10' to 70085 (to donate £10 or state any amount up to £20).

Some reflections on Will...

As a pupil...

Teacher Monty Callow says "Will was a very clever and sparky member of the class. He loved to banter in the classroom with 'sotto voce quips' which I was and wasn't supposed to hear, if you get my drift. What I very much admired was, when I looked imperiously over my half-moon glasses at him, he acknowledged this with a smile, knowing there was a boundary. It's a fleeting point of contact, clearly repeated over time, which endeared me to him.

Nothing changes. At the Nottingham Alumni Professional Networking, Will was at the bar, ordering a double of something on the bar tab. We had the same exchange of glances, another boundary, but of course he had the double and we had a laugh about the 'bad old days' when I was his teacher".

His friends...

Teachers and friends, Jacomien and Piet DuToit say "We as teachers do not always see the result of all our hard work, care and support for and influence on the young people that cross our paths. We have been privileged to experience how a group of young RHS men and women are living and implementing all those values and morals we instilled in them over the years.

The way his RHS friends are supporting each other and handling the rawness of losing Will, is quite remarkable. If we ever doubt it, they are showing us that RHS embodies Ubuntu and the African idea that it takes a whole village to raise a child. RHS can be proud of such resilient young men and women".