Tom’s mother Alison contacted the School to inform us of his sad passing on 7 January 2017. She shared thefollowing words:
Thomas arrived at MCS for the Sixth form, having been at the European School in Culham from the age of four. He wanted to play rugby, not a game he could play at the European School. He was selected to play for the first XV, where he was quickly accepted by his team mates. For the first few days he was thrown by the fact that there were no girls in class and everyone spoke English, but he soon settled down and threw himself into the life of the School. To his enormous surprise he was soon made a prefect and then Head of Leicester House. He made a wide circle of life-long friends at MCS, some of whom he lived with in London after graduating from university, and we treasure the many cards, emails and phone calls we and his fiancée Sarah have had since news of his death spread.
He achieved so much in his short life: after a gap year in South America, he went to UCL to read Anthropology, where he picked up the first year prize, the final year prize, the top first in his subject and was entered on the Dean’s List. He followed this with a Master’s in Environmental Technology at Imperial College, where he shared the AECOM prize for outstanding overall performance on the MSc course, and the ERM prize for an outstanding MSc thesis.
He started his working life in the environmental department at what was then URS (now AECOM), where he worked on a number of consultancy projects. The one he was proudest of was the report he co-authored for DEFRA on woodland management and creation in the UK. This was a subject he was passionate about, and Sarah and his family are working on a way whereby there can be a piece of woodland bought and maintained in his memory, with an emphasis on careful stewardship to encourage biodiversity. He left URS to join the Civil Service as a trainee climate change adviser for DFID. He was one of the youngest of his cohort, but he was highly regarded by his colleagues, and after a year working in the UK he was posted to South Africa,where he immediately started work on a portfolio of projects across the Southern African region, seeking to improve water management and to ease tensions over water resources. He was based in Pretoria, but he and Sarah travelled widely during their time there, making the most of every moment to hike, bike and run amongst some of what he regarded as the most beautiful and diverse scenery in the world. After two years in South Africa he was made a fully fledged government climate and environment adviser and posted to Botswana, where he was able to continue his work on transboundary water management in the region.
It was here, after a short but memorable break with Sarah and a friend up near Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Zambia in October 2016,that he became very unwell. He returned to Pretoria for further tests and to both his family’s and the doctors’ distress, learnt that he had stage 4 cancer of the gallbladder. He flew back to the UK, where he was under the care of the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, spending time at his family home and then five weeks in the oncology ward. Just after Christmas he learnt that the cancer had not responded to the chemotherapy, and he returned home to be with Sarah and his close family, who were all able to take time off work to spend as much time as they possibly could with him. He died on 7 January 2017, aged 29, having faced the disease with immense courage and fortitude, albeit tinged with regret at what was not to be. He leaves a gaping hole in the lives of all who knew him,but he also leaves a legacy in terms of the work he did to protect the environment in both the UK and in southern Africa. The Permanent Secretary of DfID, Sir Mark Lowcock, summed up his colleagues’ view of him when he wrote that he was destined for a ‘glitteringly successful and impactful career’. He leaves behind his fiancée Sarah, parents Peter and Alison, sisters Ros and Vivien and their partners, and his grandmother Ursula. The family’s focus now is to raise funds to purchase and maintain a woodland in his name that will enrich the environment and be a place that everyone can enjoy.