Nigel Bates came to MCS at the start of 1976 to take up the post of head of the Geography Department. He involved himself in a plethora of extra-curricular activities here, from hockey and cricket to house athletics and CCF. He also loved choral music and was a loyal member of Choral Society, singing in commemoration services, school concerts and carol services. Meanwhile he built up the department to an enviable level of success.
In 1978 he was appointed as a Wilkinson house tutor, moving to Walker-Dunn after 13 years, where he was Housemaster for a further 13 years.The Lily also noted his many other contributions to MCS: liaising with the College over matters concerning the choristers, acting as unofficial school photographer, setting up learning support and child protection and much more. ‘As a result, boys turned to Nigel to find a sympathetic ear to problems great and small, from a man of experience, wisdom and compassion.’
Nigel sadly passed away on 28 January 2016 after a battle with cancer. It is a testament to the impact he made on so many lives, that numerous OWs and colleagues wrote to the school with memories of Nigel and messages for his family. Here are just a few of them.
‘Nigel and I were colleagues in the Geography Department from his arrival at MCS until his retirement. He had a phenomenal memory for facts, places and, most of all for people. He was the person most likely to be turned to, by boys and colleagues alike, in times of need, in the secure knowledge that he would provide his undivided attention and unfailing support. His avuncular manner, ready sense of humour and kindliness deservedly earned him the affection and respect of a vast number of pupils over his many years at the school.’ Eric White (colleague)
‘I have very fond memories of Mr Bates and his cheerful banter. He had his work cut out with us for ‘O’ level Geography. ‘Heaven, you look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge… backwards’. The Amazonian jungle came alive with the ‘slash and burn’ and the ‘Bushmaster snakes’, and he instilled an interest in geology that has me picking up stones on the beach to this day! And as for his exam prep: ‘Say what you’re going to say, say it, and say you’ve said it!’ You can’t go wrong. A great inspiring teacher.’ Chris Staniforth (1979)
‘He managed to encourage all of us to get our work completed and move onto the next task. His teaching of some essential life skills as well as his passion for Geography are memories I will never lose. Thank you Nigel, you have left a lasting impression on many and your teachings will live on for many years to come.’ Gavin Rowley (1984)
‘There are so many happy memories of the Geography Department at MCS and especially the class taken by Mr Bates, but my favourite memory was the Geography field trip to Yorkshire where Geography came to life. Here we all had the opportunity to experience both the on duty and off duty Mr Bates.
‘I often quote Mr Bates to my four children when they need some motivation to revise for their exams. They will never have met this inspirational character, but I feel they will have benefitted from his words of wisdom. He was probably the finest teacher at MCS during my years, I owe him so much.’ Mark Hemsworth (1985)
‘His focus on getting the best out of those he was teaching was exceptional and he was sorely missed by many of us during his illness during the mid-eighties. We were delighted when he came back! He’ll be very fondly remembered.’ Nick Turner (1987)
‘Nigel was the embodiment of the MCS ethos of the 80s: in the best possible way. Firstly, he was at the top of his subject and respected for that alone. Secondly, whilst he was no nonsense and blunt, he had a degree of straightforward charm that made it easy to relate to his teaching. Thirdly, he radiated the humanity that Bill Cook imbued MCS with. It was a unique and powerful combination. Everyone respected him.’ Marc Stchedroff (1989)
‘I can safely say that no teacher was of greater influence or motivation to me than Nigel, and I have nothing but the fondest of memories of him. He not only directly influenced my choice of degree, but introduced me to a ways of thinking and looking at the world that I found invaluable during years in the Royal Navy (including when in command of my own ship) and also continue to apply in my subsequent career as a lawyer in the City.’ Mark Johnson (1993)
‘I remember him as a warm and witty man and an important and positively influential teacher and guide in my, and many others’, development during my time at MCS.’ Adam Lacey (1997)
‘He taught me geography in Lower Fourth from 2005, commanding each class with such effortless humour and erudition. He was a wonderful teacher and a warm, kind man. He also played a significant part in inspiring me to take Geography to A Level, then university, and now a career in International Development. The way he transformed potentially dry, arcane subjects into entrancing explorations of knowledge still occupies a place in my best memories of school. It was teachers like him that made school a worthwhile and uplifting experience. I miss him already. I shall try to emulate the joy he brought to learning and teaching through my own career.’ Dadu Moussavi (2010)