Here we are making our way into Autumn – with crunchy colourful leaves, cosy jumpers, thick socks, fresh air and the return of root vegetables. This is also the season for balancing light and dark and the sense of letting go. Now the leaves fall and bare branches remind us of the fleeting nature of things.
With much sadness a few weeks ago I learned the tragic news of the sudden passing of our lovely French tutor, Pavla Hartl-Sammut. I met and worked with Pavla several times over the years, and I’ve received tributes from her colleagues that I wanted to share with you, in celebration of her life and her profound contribution to adult education in Bristol.
Pavla has been teaching French at Stoke Lodge for over 25 years and has become a very dear colleague and friend to many other tutors, members of staff and of course her countless learners over all those years. With new courses ready to start this year, this has been such a terrible shock to everyone. In particular our thoughts are with Pavla’s mother (who she cared for devotedly at home), her two daughters and their families, and to her many friends and neighbours in her village, where she helped to run the village shop with a group of volunteers.
Pavla was always friendly, chatty and helpful, and it was always interesting and fascinating to talk to her about languages, culture, political, social and environmental issues. She was devoted to Stoke Lodge and the Adult Learning Service. As a committed UCU member and tutor representative, Pavla was able to put forward the views of members with wisdom and integrity.
Here are just a few of the moving tributes from colleagues, learners and friends:“Surely few people could make such an impact and be a continuing source of joy? I really feel Pavla was someone very special, one of life’s natural teachers and so thanks to the Adult Learning Service for finding and keeping such people providing a life-enhancing service.”
“She was such a vital person with lots of energy and commitment to some strong beliefs. She took a real interest in her students and their progress in French. She will be sadly missed.”
“So many people will miss Pavla – she was a highly creative and engaging teacher and a lovely person. Although I only joined her class last January, she was really effective in improving my French”
“I have studied in the French 3C class at Stoke Lodge for many years and Pavla’s enthusiasm and joy at teaching have been a constant inspiration to improve my command of French.”
“Pavla was a kind, caring, engaged person and was devoted to Stoke Lodge”.
“Pavla has been a close colleague for such a long time. When I picture her in my mind’s eye she is always smiling.”
“She was such a lovely woman and so generous. When I began teaching in Family Learning she gave me her files and said I could use whatever I wanted. She was always kind and positive, with a cheery smile for everyone. I shall really miss her”.
Pavla’s funeral and wake was held at the end of September. Because of the ongoing pandemic and restrictions, it was with sadness that her family had to follow guidelines and restrict attendance to 30 people. Jenny Wilkes, Marlis Mulder and Marivi O’Leary were very proud to represent the Adult Learning Service, together with four students from Stoke Lodge who have studied French with Pavla for many years.
Pavla’s family and the staff at Stoke Lodge are planning to hold a memorial service and plant a tree in memory of her at Stoke Lodge when the situation allows, when more colleagues will be able to take part. Donations are being collected through the Stoke Lodge office.
We are so very grateful to have known Pavla and for all her wonderful gifts and treasured contributions to our ESL and Adult Learning Service.