This morning we heard the sad news that Derrick Otim, one of our former pupils, passed away over the weekend. Our thoughts are with his family at this time, and especially with his brother Elvis, who also attended Walter Halls.
Derek left Walter Halls in 2007 and was, by all accounts, a wonderful student and gifted football player, who went on to play for Nottingham Forest youth before going to America to attend university and play for the Xavier football team.
Miss Walters taught Derrick in Year 6 and has this tribute:
As soon as I heard the devastating news about Derrick, a hundred memories returned and each have made me smile and saddened me at the same time. Derrick joined Walter Halls towards the end of year 5 from Ghana and was then in my class in year 6 in 2006. He was an instant hit in our school. He was the boy that everyone wanted to be friends with and he was friendly right back - he gave everyone a slow, wide smile that lit up his whole face and he gave it freely. Derrick lifted the positivity in the classroom and was so incredibly keen to learn and do well. He was like a sponge! He was always happy and soulful, making others feel at ease in his company and as he found learning so cool, he inspired others to do so.
I remember singing lessons in the Basement, where we had a piano and an overhead projector and sang songs like, 'I'm a Gnu…', or 'Whoops There Goes Another Rubber Tree Plant' or 'Underneath The Sea, Far Away From Land...', which he would always sing with great gusto when not everyone else would. He relished every learning opportunity.
I remember marking one of his written pieces of work where he had used every conjunction under the sun as he knew he needed to use them to 'lift' his writing... some worked and some were there so he could say he used them - which made us smile as he was that keen to do what he was being taught. He aimed straight for the top. I've just seen one of his own Facebook cover pictures which says; "Don't give up on the things that make you smile." This is Derrick - and everything made him smile!
I haven't even mentioned his football skills yet... AMAZING! He was so talented and so modest, he just grinned when he returned to the classroom with a mate's arm slung easily around his neck, his friend recalling the amazing goal that Derrick had just scored. He let them tell his story and be part of his moment. His modesty was inspiring. Every teacher on playtime duty watching the football game would come back raving about his talent and how the ball seemed to be a magnet to his foot as he weaved and dodged his way around the court. Every football scout that came to see him wanted to sign him up.
Derrick cared openly and honestly for others - children and staff alike. H was kind, gracious, fair, loyal, sensitive and extremely polite.
I bumped into him about a year ago and we chatted for awhile about all that he had been up to and he asked after all the staff he knew at Walter Halls. Years on, he was as happy, relaxed and modest as he was back in Walter Halls. I just hope he knew how well thought of he was.
Derrick will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his brother Elvis and his family. We will always remember hid fondly as will the wider community. He is a real loss and I feel so lucky to have had the privilege of knowing him. He taught us all so much about how to treat others, cherish what you have and how to live life.
Thank you Derrick.
Former teacher Amada Dawson posted this tribute to him on facebook: This is absolutely devastating news. I taught this amazing young man when he'd just arrived in England, and remember his first day at Walter Halls School. I was doing a writing assessment with the class and was concerned that it might be inaccessible for him. I remember seeing him play football at playtime and urging his uncle to take him down to Forest. I'd never seen a kid play like him. No one could ever have had a bad word to say about this young man, he was kind, calm, generous, incredibly bright (top of the class kind of bright) and had such a shiny future ahead of him. Devastated doesn't describe the way I feel.