Stan's learning support assistant, Sarah, died on 10th November.
Sarah Gregson was one of a kind. She's pictured here in 2007, with Stan.
Yes, she never had a bad word to say about anybody; yes, she was incredibly patient with Stan; yes, her eyes lit up whenever she described things that he did. But there was more to it than that, wonderful though those qualities were. Sarah Gregson was instrumental in helping to steer the way that Stan's school deals with special educational needs. In many ways, Stan's been an experiment, and Sarah was one of his most trusted lab technicians.
Sarah was one of the few people who really knew Stanley - and knew how amazing and also how difficult he can be. She made lovely resources for him and was always eager to learn new ways of learning and take advice from others. The other professionals involved with Stanley always told us how impressed they were with Sarah and her dedication to Stanley.
Sarah made sure that Stanley was accepted and included in school life and it is testament to her that he has been so successful and has so many friends in school. Sarah also welcomed Stanley into her home and Stanley spent time with her daughter in the school holidays. We came to regard Sarah as part of our extended family.
Some of the above I was able to pass on to Sarah's family at the funeral. We want the family to know that, on top of the love she had for her family, she had a special place for Stan. But I want to stress that it was a professional friendship that she deserved to be very proud of.
We will miss Sarah's humanity. We'll miss her laughter. We'll miss her special friendship with Stan and the things she used to teach him. But mainly we're just so glad that Stan got a chance to meet and work with Sarah. We're crystal clear that without Sarah's input, Stan's time in mainstream education wouldn't have been so successful.
As Stan grows up, we'll remind him of this often.