Friday, 7 February 2014

In Memory of Stuart Paterson Cassie 1941-2013

Treasurer of MfM 2002-2013

Stuart, on a recent visit to Madagascar
 with two of his ex-pupils, now both teachers.
A wonderful, funny, enthusiastic, highly intelligent and hard-working man – Stuart was one of the miracles that have helped to keep Money for Madagascar running over the past 27 years.

Our previous treasurer had given us plenty of warning of his retirement but the date was fast approaching and no replacement had been found.  Out of the blue I got a phone call from Stuart who had spent a year as a Quaker volunteer in Madagascar in 1966.  We chatted for some time and he told me of his career as a Principal Education Officer on the Wirral, particularly concerned with the building of new schools, and said that since his retirement he had been thinking of doing some voluntary work and wanted to support our efforts in Madagascar – had I any suggestions?  Of course I had, and that was the start of eleven years of fruitful collaboration which saw the charity grow from a small organisation with just three trustees and an annual income of £67,000 to the present with eleven trustees, one paid employee and an annual income of approximately a quarter of a million pounds a year.

Stuart was full of ideas and was always keen to involve schools, from a village primary school in France to “Sewell Park College” near his home in Norfolk. MfM was already supporting “Lycee Sewell” in Tsiroanomandidy, a secondary school named after the 19th Century Quaker missionary Joseph Stickney Sewell. Upon investigation it transpired that common ancestry linked the 2 schools across 10,000km, as the Sewell Park College in Norwich, was named after none other than the cousin of Joseph Sewell, a certain Philip Sewell - engineer, banker and philanthropist, who bequeathed the grounds upon which the Sewell Park College was built.

All we needed now was a descendant of the Sewells to bring this link to life. With great enthusiasm our Trustee Chris Sewell was happy to oblige! Letters were exchanged across thousands of miles, and in 2013 the deputy head of Sewell Park Academy was able to visit Lycée Sewell to meet the teachers and students face to face. 

Stuart was a creative catalyst. He was also very good at building friendships. We trust that his love and enthusiasm will live on in the many projects he initiated, such as this one.

Stuart had a highly developed sense of humour and lightened many fraught situations with a well-chosen joke.  There can’t be many people whose memorial service included a recitation of “The Lion and Albert” which produced gales of laughter from the mourners. 
The last two years of his life were very difficult and he spent many weeks in hospital but he showed incredible courage and was doing his best to help MfM right up to the last week of his life when he attended a meeting of the Trustees and, though physically very frail, was able to make insightful contributions to the discussions.  We miss him greatly and are deeply grateful for all that he did for MfM and for his beloved Madagascar.

Theresa Haine

February 2014