Tribute to Andy Bird
ANDY BIRD 1973 – 2019
Tribute to Andy Bird, Interim CEO of Venturers Trust
By Gail Bragg, Chair of Venturers Trust
I first met Andy last summer during the interview process for the position of Interim CEO. He stood out for all the right reasons. His determination to provide all children with the best possible education shone through immediately.
Andy described the role of CEO for Venturers Trust as his “job of a lifetime, where I get the chance to support and help children who are in the same position I was in more than 30 years ago.” He had worked in education for over 20 years, rising through the ranks from a PE teacher at Ferrers High School in Northamptonshire, to the founder of what would become a well-respected and successful MAT in the Midlands.
In building Fairfax Multi-Academy Trust, Andy applied his own philosophy that “no matter where a student comes from, what religious beliefs they share or what socio-economic background they have, all are entitled to a world-class education”.
This philosophy inspired his commitment to take on and turn around schools that had been placed in Special Measures. One such school was taken out of Special Measures just six months after joining Fairfax MAT and is now oversubscribed for the first time ever. This, to me, perfectly illustrates Andy’s can-do approach to life and Venturers Trust immediately embraced his energetic, proactive way of working.
His primary focus was on academy improvement and he had already put in place robust systems to accelerate progress in this area. Andy’s vision was to continue to develop Venturers Trust as an organisation that provides opportunities not only for students and staff but also for the local communities served by our schools.
He valued the contribution of every member of staff and his personable approach put others at ease. He often said that having a tea break with a site team is just as important as a meeting with a headteacher.
Andy quickly recognised the skills and talents of those around him and he believed in empowering others in order to help them raise their aspirations and achieve their very best work. He was encouraging and supportive and his enthusiasm was infectious.
As well as Andy’s many professional achievements in the field of education, he was also a talented sportsman, particularly in his younger years. He represented the Midlands in javelin, was a trialist for Nottingham Forest Football Club and he represented Great Britain in basketball.
But, above all this, at the centre of his universe were his two sons, Max and Charlie. The loss his family must be feeling at this terrible time is impossible to put into words. Certainly, he has left a tremendous hole at Venturers Trust, where his big personality and inspirational nature will be missed on a daily basis.
He was held in such high regard by his colleagues, we have been inundated with tributes to Andy. So much so, that we have opened a tribute page on this website and I invite you to read below some of the messages and memories that have been shared with us. If you would like to contribute your own personal message, please contact Gina Taillier.
It only remains for me to say that whilst Andy’s time with Venturers Trust has been cut tragically short, the significant contribution he has made to this organisation and to the communities served by our schools, will most certainly be long-lasting.
Tributes and Messages of Condolences
All at Venturers' ACademy are deeply saddened. We will always remember Andy's kindness, support and empathy.
With your leadership, kindness, friendship and great sense of humour you touched the lives of so many at Venturers Trust in the short time that you spent with us.
You will be truly missed.
Ali, Central Office
All at Merchants' Academy are deeply saddened. A huge loss for us all.
I will always remember his warmth & approachability that shone through.
As my boss, he provided invaluable support, guidance & career growth. I will always be thankful for the short time we knew him at Venturers Trust.
Gina, Marketing & Design, central office
Andy brought with him a positive and vibrant energy to Fairlawn Primary School and the staff valued his warm and open personality.
He was professionally very approachable and responsive to his colleagues, often taking the time to write heartfelt messages understanding the significance of feeling respected and appreciated in our roles.
We are extremely saddened and our thoughts are with Andy's family and friends.
Julie Molesworth - Principal, Fairlawn Primary School
I’ll remember Andy in many positive ways – with a big smile and a great sense of humour, always great with a story.
Dimitris, ICT, Central Office
Andy was the real deal, committed to getting the best deal for children wherever he had influence and no task was either too great or small for him in ensuring this.
He was a very real presence for Merchants’ Academy reassuring me at those times when the going inevitably got tough and celebrating with us every step of the way when we made those small steps of progress.
He was also a good friend to me and I will miss him both professionally and personally. I am so pleased that at our recent monitoring visit our progress was recognised and he would have had a grin as wide as a Cheshire Cat accompanied by the words “I told you you could do it!.”
We now owe it to Andy to make our schools and this Trust truly great and continue the journey he was so focussed upon driving.
Sam Williamson - Principal, Merchants' Academy
So sorry to hear this news about Andy, an inspirational MAT CEO and headteacher who has touched the lives of thousands of pupils.
Our thoughts are with Andy's family and everyone at Venturers Trust.
Lisa, Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West
So very sad. Such an ebullient character. Thoughts to Andy's family, friends and colleagues.
Billy, Headteacher, Lichfield
An inspirational leader who will be hugely missed.
From Hampton's Education
A very charasmatic, charming and ambitious man who had a huge influence on me and my career path. Always grateful, Birdy. You will be massively missed!
From The Streetly Academy Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Department.
It has been an absolute pleasure working with Andy and our thoughts go out to his family and friends.
Lisa, South West Maths Hub.
Very sad and shocking news about a lovely man in his prime, deepest sympathy and thoughts to his family and friends.
Chris, Education Leader, London
Very sad to hear about someone who was so full of life and who achieved so much in his career.
Helen, West Midlands
Andy improved the life chances of so many young people. Our thoughts are with his family and all those who had him as part of their lives.
From Bristnall Hall Academy
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