On Friday morning I learned of the devastating news that Ian Thompson, Dean of King’s College, Cambridge, had died.
Ian has featured in this blog as patron of the Uncertainty Division, which it’s fair to say was probably the least important of the many positions he held – so the willingness with which he gave us his time, support and, on several occasions, his room (rehearsal space in Cambridge was never easy to come by) sums up the generosity that characterised everything he did.
When I first met Ian I was less than a year out of university, struggling to find my way after my failure to get academic funding, unsure of what I wanted to do or even in some ways who I wanted to be. Ian was the Dean of Chapel at Selwyn College, the friend of a friend, which I think is worth pointing out because when he recognised and met my need for friendship and guidance it wasn’t because it was his duty – it was simply his nature.
The warmth and kindness that he showed me over the years that followed played a huge part in the direction my life has taken, practically, personally and spiritually. He supported me through the bleakest emotional times and at other times reduced me to helpless laughter, be it from a perceptively wry observation or an outrageous innuendo. He offered wisdom and help on numerous occasions, even when it wasn’t asked for; when, at the end of one evening out, we discovered my bike had been stolen, he wouldn’t hear of me walking home: ‘you’ll need a bike to get to work tomorrow,’ he said, ‘take mine. I was about to buy a new one anyway.’
I could tell a hundred similar stories, as could many, many people. His completely unnecessary death is a tragedy on so many levels and leaves a gap that will never be filled. It is naturally distressing to see the circumstances surrounding his death being twisted by the guttersnipe press for the sake of a cheap headline, the very thing he was afraid of. But it is with absolute certainty that I say he was an innocent victim – and, more importantly, a truly wonderful man, whose love for others made an impact on a huge number of lives.
There are not enough words in the world to express the loss we feel.