Why Blair Forster?
Blair Forster was brought up in Glasgow. He started learning the piano at the age of 9 and was an exceptionally talented musician. No matter which country he was working in, he always ended up giving piano recitals, formally and informally.
Blair gave 100% to all he did and excelled not just musically but academically and on the sports field. After graduating from Glasgow University, Blair started to follow a career in business. He joined a large textile company as a young executive in Columbia, South America and started his international career. He had a sense of adventure and an interest in the countries that he worked in, but he became increasingly disillusioned by what he saw. His thinking was strongly influenced by E. F. Schumacher’s book, ‘Small is Beautiful – a study of economics as if people mattered’. Below is a quote taken from the book that Blair had heavily underlined, a quote that reflects Blair’s own philosophy.
“In the affairs of men, there always appears to be a need for at least two things simultaneously, which, on the face of it, seem to be incompatible and to exclude one another. We always need both freedom and order.”
Shortly afterwards, Blair left the world of business for the world of education. In 1975 he went to St Luke’s College, Exeter, where he met his wife, Wendy, and whom he later married in ‘81. He then returned to Columbia in 1976, this time as a teacher. Over the next 27 years, he managed to acquire a distinguished record in international education, having worked in Abu Dhabi, United Kingdom, and El Salvador before becoming Principal of the International School, Suva in Fiji in 1987, where he balanced the powers of office with the excitement of exploring the pristine ocean life of the Pacific.
Blair arrived in Hong Kong in 1994 to take up the position of Principal of Li Po Chun United World College. He had always been interested in the UWC movement, because it symbolized so much of what he believed in. Many of the college’s achievements are due to his management style, which relied on the simplest of virtues: Blair commanded the respect, friendship and loyalty of his staff and colleagues by hard work, fair-mindedness and an unswerving sense of vision.
In terms of his abiding commitment to the I.B. (International Baccalaureate) and what one of his students called “his great faith in the people of small countries’, it comes as no surprise therefore that Blair put a great deal of effort into attracting scholarship students from third world countries. In recent years East Timor was a country he felt a great empathy with, and were it not for ill health, he would already have visited it to discuss ways in which he, the United World Colleges and IB schools in the region could help prepare young people from that country to compete for university scholarships.
It is for this reason that his friends and family have therefore decided to set up this Memorial Trust to continue towards this goal in trying to advance educational opportunities for the East Timorese people.
Blair Forster died on September 10th, 2003 from a brain tumour. It is most appropriate that Blair, who devoted his life to education, should have passed away peacefully on Teachers’ Day.
Below are some special messages that his wife, Wendy, would like to share with you in order that you might get to know the man.
A very special person to all of us fortunate enough to call ourselves his friend. The months spent at Chapel-en-le-Frith with him as my lodger were some of the happiest of my life - I learned to live life for the present from Blair.
Long-standing friend from Buxton, England.
I would like to say that Blair has been and will continue to be, a great source of inspiration to me. His piano playing, and his sporting and academic successes, his foreign adventures and what he has achieved with his profession are fantastic aspirations and he is a great role model.
We are such rich people for having known Blair: . . . You will be proud that he achieved so much, and there are now in the world literally thousands of young men and women whose lives he shaped and who will always hold him in both respect and affection. . . .
Former Headmaster of Rannoch School, mentor and personal friend of Blair and Wendy’s.
He was a great man. He left a mark on everyone he met and for that he will be remembered.
Adid S. Dalal, LPCUWC 1999-2001