Chrissy here

26 Sep 2012

Chrissy here. These may be the hardest words to write but it seems natural to continue Mike's story. The heartfelt words and responses to his blog have helped to carry us positively through the last 18 months of his life - this I absolutely do not doubt. The waves of love and warmth washed over us increasing our inner strength and resolve. He decided with our blessing to 'go public' and now I must help him with the final entry. I believe he will help me and would want you all to know our experience of the hospice.

Catherine our wonderful palliative care nurse strongly recommended the hospice on Monday 17th September to manage Mike's abdominal discomfort. Medications could be tried and changed more easily. Mike nodded and I felt a tinge of relief so we both knew this was the right time. On Tuesday morning I was able to drive Mike there, Rachel poised with the oxygen if needed. He was calm but anxious. This frown of anxiety melted into relief as smiles of welcome punctuated our wheelchair ride to room 13. A lovely light room overlooking an inner courtyard with water feature, benches and flowers. The next day we did move to another spacious lovely room overlooking decking, pond and trees and more importantly for Mike a better WiFi service!

The hospice proved to be a haven where Mike could relax, retain his dignity and independence safe in the knowledge medical aid was at hand at a touch of a button. They completely respected our wishes and I was able to remain active in his care.

Over the 3 days we made forays around the lovely garden stopping to watch a squirrel, enjoying the sun on our faces and pausing to enjoy the trees around us. We talked about our Devon home, the swing seat and the woods. 

Mike made 3 trips to the cafe taking pleasure in a simple cup of tea and beaming like an excited little boy when I suggested an ice cream. Whilst relishing his Calippo lolly we laughed about other ice creams and sweets we liked in our childhood. 

He loved the fact that he had a free paper of his choice every morning and even asked for it on the morning of his death. Doing the crossword was always a challenge he enjoyed especially with me or the girls.

Food remained an important pleasure and Mike never lost the desire to eat, ordering a full english breakfast each morning at the hospice. He did manage it once and even woolfed down  chocolate sponge with chocolate custard showing he was still a pudding man at heart. 

Another particular pleasure for me was watching him shave off 3 days worth of distinguished white stubble. A simple act requiring concentration and calmness. Something he has done all his life but I rarely watch. He was not looking at himself in any negative way just enjoying doing it well and feeling refreshed. It had an intense meditative quality that we both quietly absorbed.

In the last month of his life a borrowed ukelele featured quite highly and the live music and singing it offered was a joy. Mike had a few goes, Rachel lulled us with 'my Bonnie lies over the ocean' and my brother Brian played a few numbers. We sang and played 'You are my sunshine' and 'When the Saints' to Mike after his death. A moment we will all treasure. 

When we first arrived at the hospice the nurse mentioned to Mike the idea of rest and preservation of energy. He did of course rest but was not one to lie in bed for long. No surprise he was always striving towards being a little stronger and the equipment, tailored medication, enviroment and loving care allowed him the freedom to remain mobile. It also gave him, I believe, the freedom to die at a time of his choosing with me and the girls by his side. He let go peacefully without anxiety as we continued to talk and hold him.

In many ways it's been the best of times and in others the worst of times. An intense unforgettable 18 months with the absolute best of men. My darling Mike always loved never to be forgotten. 

Well, that was not so hard to write after all.


Me and the girls thank you so much for all your letters, cards, flowers and online comments. They are wonderful and will help us enormously. 

He will be laid to rest with the best view ever in his beloved Devon.

Watch this space for details about the memorial service in November time in Kingston.

User Comments

Geoff Barton - 26 Sep 2012

Chrissy here


I can't tell you how moving and inspiring I found this. You paint an extraordinary picture of an extraordinary man. In doing so, you help us - those who knew him in different degrees - to come to terms with his death.

Thank you so much for writing this amazing post. It's heartbreaking, of course, but incredibly moving and ultimately uplifting.

Geoff Barton

Harry - 26 Sep 2012


The crossword reminds me of a good friend. For his whole life he completed the prize crossword in the Scotsman newspaper every Sunday. He won on the very last time - the letter came through almost just as lung cancer claimed him; we think he new.

Jennifer D Begg - 26 Sep 2012


Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I worked with Mike a few times when I was at the Guardian and he was a truly lovely man. I learned so much from him and thoroughly enjoyed any events we got to work on together. He introduced me to my hero Ken Robinson and had great fun taking the mickey out of me for going bright red and gibbering like an idiot (something Mike would never have done, he was so eloquent and professional). I'll always remember him fondly and be so very grateful to have known him.

My love and peace to all of your family.

mary ferguson - 26 Sep 2012

Thinking at this sad time

Hi Chrissy
Just to say I was so.sorry to hear that Mike passed away. It seems though that he died as he wanted with dignity, courage and with those he loved around him.

i read his Blog regularly and having lost family and friends to cancer too, his insight and perspective into dealing with his illness was an inspiration to others.

Mike was one of the first reporters I worked with when I was a BBC editing trainee and I worked with him for many years on and off. He was lovely, kind and patient and a joy to work with.

Im thinking of you at this time and he is in my prayers.

Pixie Maynard - 26 Sep 2012


Thank you for bringing Mike's cancer blog to such a moving and meaningful close. I feel he did help you in this as his words during his cancer journey have helped and inspired so many. He has shown we should not fear the end and for those of us who are close to and supporting family members going through their own fight should just take each day at a time, share the easier times and support where necessary when times are not so good.

Simon Gallimore - 26 Sep 2012

Thank you

We haven't met Chrissy but thank you for writing the last chapter to Mike's story. Much appreciated. But then again not the last chapter for as long as Mike lives on in our hearts and memories his story will continue.
I shall do my utmost to be there in November.

Huw - 26 Sep 2012

Well done Chrissy, Louise and Rachel. A beautiful and moving conclusion to a wonderful story. You know better than any of us how proud Mike would have been. xx

Meilin Tai Parsons - 26 Sep 2012

Mike's passing

The good die young. Mike was always the calmest, most generous and enduring of persons I know, he made time for everyone he knew. He gave us all sunshine, Chrissy . And as we remember him, he still will. Our thoughts and prayers with you, Lou and Rach .

John Connor - 26 Sep 2012

Devon and ukuleles

Chrissy - we've never met, and I didn't know Mike except through his wise and perceptive writings on education. I've said it before, but his death has affected me as much as the death of Ted Wragg. Where will we find balance now? I write also as a confirmed ukulele addict and resident of Kingston Devon. My ambition is to have my ashes scattered on Muxholme Point at the mouth of the River Erme, and I would feel privileged to be in Mike's company! My thoughts and prayers are with you a this sorrowful time.

Mike Sparkes - 26 Sep 2012

Peaceful Ending

Dear Chrissie

Our thoughts have been with you, Louise and Rachel throughout this terrible journey, as much as with our dear friend Mike....

You have all been such pillars of strength and love for him. It was wonderful that you could be there right to the end, sharing such delightful and poignant moments. The hospice must have provided such perfect and peaceful surroundings for those last sad days.

The truly wonderful tributes that have poured in over the last few days are the least that Mike deserves.

Our thoughts and love go out to him, and to the three of you. Mike will stay with us all forever.

Mike xxx

Adrian Everitt - 26 Sep 2012

And that's a great photo, too!

Thanks, Chrissy.

All strength to you and the girls.

Nic - 26 Sep 2012


Chrissy - you are an amazing woman & thank-you so much for sharing this post about Mike in the hospice. So touching & am sure anyone who reads it will be moved.
I always enjoyed reading Mike's education articles & then felt privileged to read his blog - such brilliant, honest & inspirational writing. His spirit will live on in his words and within you & your 2 beautiful daughters.

Wishing the 3 of you and your family all the strength in the world.

Brenda Phillips - 26 Sep 2012

Thank you for this, Chrissy. It is so very thoughtful of you to share your precious last days together.

It's been a few years since I've seen Mike, but your words brought back memories of his his humour, his enthusiasm and his genuine delight in the smallest of treats.

It's a beautiful photograph. Best wishes to all of you.

Ivor Gaber - 26 Sep 2012


A beautiful conclusion to Mike's blog, written with real compassion but with style as well. Mike would have been proud of you. Sue (Littlemore) and I are finishing of the the Radio 4 programme - Universities Challenged - that Mike and I began last year. It's being broadcast at 11.00 on Friday 26th October.
Hope to see you at the meorial service.

Lauriir Margolis - 27 Sep 2012


Wonderful and inspiring piece of writing Chrissy. I hope the next days and weeks pass smoothly. Sincere condolences and best wishes to you all.
Laurie Margolis

Michael Ellis - 27 Sep 2012


Chrissy, Louise and Rachel
I knew Mike from Braintree days (our families were good friends) and at the Grammar School. I have read all the genuine and warm tributes from many famous and not so famous people. What is really striking is that the description of Mike in later life - his generosity, sensitivity, gentleness and gentlemanliness - well, his sheer goodness, were all present in him as a boy and a young man. A very special man - and surrounded by a very special family. Our thoughts are with you. Mike

Bonnie Duncan - 27 Sep 2012

Sending lots of love

Dearest Chrissy and Girls,
Thank you for bringing us full cycle in sharing Mike's story. I'm so grateful to have had this chance to keep in touch over the past 18 months, and now to know that all of you together enjoyed his life to the end. My heart and thoughts are with you.

Charles Woodroffe - 27 Sep 2012


Chrissy, you are an amazingly strong and intelligent woman and I am sure Mike knew how incredibly lucky he was to have you caring for him through such a terrible trauma.

Richard Sewell - 27 Sep 2012

Thank you

The title says it pretty much; this article is a testament to not just Mike's qualities but also yours and the family's. With very best wishes to you all.

Chris Husbands - 27 Sep 2012


Thankyou for writing this - like others, I found this deeply moving and emotional; heartbreaking and compassionate.

With sincere condolences

Chris Husbands

Sylvie - 27 Sep 2012

Thank you

Dear Chrissy
Thank you do much for sharing this with us. Your words match beautifully Mike's. I can only start to imagine how you feel but despite never having met Mike I feel very much I have lost a friend. I could not hold back my tears while reading your entry and I wish all the best to you and your lovely daughters.

Fran Ryan - 27 Sep 2012


This has moved me to tears, it is so full of love. As deaths go it seemed very beautiful, such lovely care and good memories for you all in this very tough time. My heart goes out to you and your family, stay strong. xx

Robert Hill - 27 Sep 2012


Dear Chrissy,

Thanks so much for what was a truly open, moving and wonderful last post.

Steff - 27 Sep 2012

What a moving end to Mike's story. I'm pleased to hear that he was, as far as possible, peaceful and comfortable when the end came. Best Wishes to you all. xx

John Lever - 27 Sep 2012


A very moving and uplifting post. Thank you!

penny - 27 Sep 2012

thank you Chrissy

You have gently closed the most important chapter in your life with moving dignity and profound love Chrissy. Thank you for helping everyone to close a moment in their lives that was touched by your husband, your love and your best friend. I think he is on his bike at the top of the hill.

Richard Gould - 27 Sep 2012

Your blog

Thank you so much for writing this. I can't find the words - probably because they don't even exist - to indicate how brave and inspirational Mike and you and the girls have been over the last 18 months. I'll never forget this, nor what a lovely man Mike was.

Andy Bryan - 27 Sep 2012


Thank you for this wonderful piece of writing. Well done you. How very brave. I'm certain we all needed to know and reading it has put all minds at rest, if weepy.Also for those of us who have never been inside a Hospice you paint a re-assuring picture. This photo is fantastic and captures your family perfectly. I would be honoured to go to Mike's Memorial. Love to you all for Mike's funeral. Andy x

Yiota Panayi Davis - 27 Sep 2012


Dear Chrissy,

I have only just seen this terribly sad news. I worked with Mike a few years ago whilst I was still living in Cambridge. He was my most favourite person and I was terribly saddened to hear of Mike's illness and finally of his passing. My thoughts and best wishes go to you and all the family. Mike always spoke so lovingly of you and his beloved girls.

with very best wishes and condolences.
Yiota x

Anne Kealy - 27 Sep 2012


Oh Chrissy, Such a poignant and powerful piece. No doubt Mike is proud of you. Thank-you for your remarkable generosity in sharing this intimate and precious time. You and Mike have been such wonderful positive examples in how to cope with the seldom spoken of issue of dying. This blog will have been an inspiration, and now comfort, to many people. Lots of love - Anne x

Steven Taylor - 27 Sep 2012

Thank You

Chrissy, thank you for writing such a difficult but lovely final chapter.
Mike was such a warm, genuine colleague and friend, and I feel very sad too, but also so inspired by him.
Our love and prayers are with you and the girls, Steve & Debbie

Fran Cole - 27 Sep 2012

Mike and Emma

So sad to hear of Mike's passing - we were contemporaries at Emma and I remember his quiet charm and gentle nature. My thoughts are with the lovely family he has left behind. God bless you all. Fran

Allison Allen - 27 Sep 2012

Your words

Thank you Chrissie for sharing this. I am taken by your amazing demonstration of the strength of your marriage - signalled by you summoning the will to complete the story. I believe that when a much loved partner is lost, it is a sign of the strength of that partnership that the survivor continues activities (sorry - poor word), a testimony to the relationship. I hope this continues to give you strength and that your daughters too are able to celebrate having such a wonderful father.
Thinking of you all.

Mandy Baker - 27 Sep 2012

I'm so glad his last days were so peaceful. He was lucky to have such a lovely family. My best wishes to you all.

Katie Finigan - 27 Sep 2012


Chrissy - thank you for sharing Mike's final few days with us. I don't know you and the girls but the photo you added shows such a lovely thoughts are with you.

Nigel de Gruchy - 27 Sep 2012

Mike Baker

Dear Chrissie and Family,
Although I have never met you I have rarely been so moved as to read your account of Mike's final days. It seems that courage and eloquence blessed you both.
I missed the opportunity of public comment on Mike's sad passing. This is what I would have written had I been around:
Away from home I did not learn the sad news about Mike Baker until coming across the impressive parade of personae educational queuing up in the Guardian, 25 September, to lavish much deserved praise upon him as a person and a journalist.

It does not demean the many other excellent education journalists of the recent past to describe Mike Baker as the best of his generation and possibly beyond. Introduced to Mike by his predecessor in 1983, I quickly appreciated he knew more about education than teachers and their union representatives – starting with myself! Furthermore, his knowledge and understanding spread deeply across the whole field, right from nursery through schools, to FE and HE.

I saw that in my sector, schools, Mike had the knack of going to the right source best placed to comment on whatever issue was on the boil that day. He knew the strong and weak points of the many sources competing for coverage but in my experience was even handed in his decisions, handing no unfair advantage to any individual or group amongst the myriad from which to choose.

Mike’s passing reminds us of a golden age in live media specialist reporting when he was at his peak delivering superb education packages for the BBC bulletins. His searching but non-confrontational interviewing technique with simple and succinct summations of the key points of any issue in whatever seconds were allocated to him were superb, a joy to experience and a textbook model for any student of his profession. In contrast today journalists seem trapped in 24/7 studios on standby to answer repetitive and bland questions from anchor newscasters serving up less news more frequently while mixing up comment with fact, a fault Mike skilfully avoided.

If the art of teaching is to make the complex simple Mike was also one of the greatest teachers around.
Nigel de Gruchy
Former General Secretary NASUWT (1990-2002)

Ian Nash - 27 Sep 2012

A truly wonderful bloke

Dear Chrissy,

We never met but I feel I know you through the things Mike has said. I am astonished that you are able to write such a beautifully reflective piece at a time of such loss.

I wrote a few words to mutual friends when I heard of his death, simply to say that I was really fond of Mike and always enjoyed his company, his journalism and his wonderfully dreadful humour, guaranteed to make one cringe!

I followed his cancer blog closely, often responding and contacting him whenever I could. To die as a result of double lung cancer has to be the cruellest irony, given how fit and healthy he was for virtually all of his life – and as we’ve both mentioned before, I think, having never smoked.

I have a statement from an early cancer blog of Mike’s by the side of my desk. It reads: “It’s amazing how much more you notice when you are learning.” At first, it seemed to be stating the obvious but in the context of what he was going through, it came over as refreshingly telling. I paused at the time and thought about how much I fail to notice because I think I have learned all I need for this or that. I realised too that what he was really saying was: “It’s amazing how much more you notice when you keep questioning.”

At times, I wondered whether Mike wasn’t presenting a false image in his regular blog, remaining buoyant and hearty at all costs in order to persuade us that he was not suffering too much...really. But, in the context of all he wrote, this clearly was not the case. Looking back on those blogs, he conveyed in detail the awful experiences he was having; but he was ever the consummate reporter, retaining a firm objectivity even when writing about what he personally was going through. And even more, he was ploughing into new ventures such as woodwork and nature study, as though life stretched out interminably before him. I’m not sure I could do the same; in fact, I am sure I could not.

As I say, I will miss him, his words, his company – and those awful puns.

Mike is now a set of wonderful memories that will stay with us all for the rest of our lives.



Margaret Harding - 27 Sep 2012

Blog written by Chrissie, wife of Mike Baker

Beautifully written. Have never met Mike but am full of admiration for his courage and professional, maintained to the last. Hope that, in time, all those good memories will be a comfort to his grieving family.
This is worth reading.

Lesley Killin - 27 Sep 2012

The final entry

Dear Chrissy

Although I only met you a couple of times Mike never failed to talk of you and the girls when we spoke. It was so moving to read your final entry and so fitting - Mike would be so proud of you all. Three years ago this December my brother and I were with my Mum when she passed away. We spent the final hours with Mum in her room, recollecting our childhood and all the happy family memories. I like to think Mum could hear us and she slipped quietly away while we held her hands and stroked her hair. Even now I tell people it was a priviledge to be with her and share such an intimate moment - it may sound strange to some people but I know exactly how good it feels to be able to share such a special moment with the ones you love. You will carry the memories in your heart forever.

Mike will never be forgotten.

All our love
Lesley, James and Ed xxx

Alban Thurston - 27 Sep 2012

Wonderful post

Dear Chrissy,

Your strength & grace shine through every word of this wonderful post. A beautiful, tender summation of the happiness which you, Louise & Rachel created over the years with Mike, a very great man.

The circle of love remains unbroken; your fine, measured words widen that circle, making it all-embracing. In honour of a very considerable soul: we will never forget Mike.

With all my love, Alban xxx

Richard Pearce - 27 Sep 2012

Final Days

Just to say how sorry I was to learn of Mike's death. As a parent of 31 year old twins and an ex school govenor,he made the impenitrable undestandable.

As an ex employye of the PAH I echo your words about the care he received in his last days.The staff there are are ispirational and a tribute to careers throughout the country. A band of dedicated Heros whose only aim is to make the inevitable bearable.
Richard Pearce

An admirer - 27 Sep 2012


Dear Baker family

My heart goes out to you all at the loss of Mike, who like many others I did not know personally, but who I felt I knew through his blog posts and articles. I was glad to donate something as a result of his incredibly brave bike ride.

My father also died from cancer and had a keen interest in education, which spurred me on to become involved in this incredibly rewarding but at times frustrating area. We need people like Mike to shine a light through all the murk of recent policy decisions.

Would be great if there could be a journalism prize with Mike's name on it.

Whatever happens, we must all somehow sustain the momentum that Mike created through his observations about education and life and above all make sure that the 'decision makers' listen to our collective voice.

David Price - 27 Sep 2012

A great life and a good death

Like everyone on here, I found this incredibly moving, yet incredibly uplifting at the same time. I never met Mike but regularly wrote to him,and we shared blogs. My own tributr is here:
My thoughts are with you. God bless,

Rebecca Hanson - 27 Sep 2012

A wonderful post

Thank you for your wonderful post Chrissy. It's inspirational to read and beautifully written.

I used to chat to Mike through his education blog and when he opened this one I wanted to carry on the conversation because I had a very positive journey with my mum when she had cancer. Taking part in the comments to this blog have given me the opportunity to look back on that time which I have enjoyed doing. I've also been inspired by some of the things I've learned from Mike's posts and have read 'Why did the Cancer Disappear' and loved it and of course it's been a delight to read what he, and now you, have to say.

The year after mum died was, of course, a dark time for dad. But it was not a bad time. It was a time when he felt around gently, taking time to find his bearings with the light out for a while. He planned time to grieve and spent some time on a Christian retreat specifically for bereavement and the rest of the time he was content just to get by.

And then as they year came around dawn came. He didn't expect it and he didn't demand it. It just happened. When I suggested a dating agency he agreed. The profile my sister picked out for him seemed a perfect match and wonderfully both he and the lady involved agreed.

He and his wife have a big party planned for all of their children and our families for their 10th wedding anniversary next spring.

I wish you and your girls well.

To John Connor and others who wonder where we will find our balance now I wonder if perhaps you will help me and others create that balance in cyberspace? There quite a few excellent discussion forums around. There are several on the network and the Local Schools Network is also a well managed forum.

Discussion forums can be awkward and scary places at first but if they're well moderated tensions resolve over time and there are some inspirational and enlightening discussions about education going on.

And finally from me it doesn't seem right to leave without putting my finger on why I had such a positive experience with my mother when she was dying.

There was a day in my first year as a teacher when the pressures got on top of my and I ended up shouting at another teacher who had let me down on something they had promised in the yard. I knew I was wrong and I was horrified I'd done it. I went and sat in the senior team area and was called into the deputy head's office.

Instead of addressing what had just happened she asked me questions about what was happening in my life. I hadn't told anyone that my mum had been taken into hospital for what turned out to be the final time that day. I'd bottled it up. I didn't want to rock the boat on either side of the country. She didn't even discuss the incident she just sent me home for two days and told me to go and visit my mother. It's difficult to say how important that visit was to me. When I returned I apologised sincerely to the other teacher and the incident was closed.

That was in the days when school leaders were promoted based on their ability to command the respect of their peers.

The deputy head was culled in one of the many 'school improvements' I've watched which have stripped out great teachers and leaders in education and replaced them with leaders who excel at keeping Ofsted at bay.

With so many thanks to the uncountably many people from the discussion forums and the across the Liberal Democrats who've helped.

Jonathan Stewart - 27 Sep 2012

Ice cream and ukeleles

Chrissy, what a wonderful continuation of Mike's story. It was so very touching and so utterly in keeping with its overriding narrative of strength in adversity, wit, wisdom and pathos.
We shall commemorate Mike on Tuesday at the Surrey 14-19 Conference that we had hoped he might be able to attend. He will be there, of course, in our thoughts as will you and your family.
Thank you

Paul Kleiman - 27 Sep 2012

I just wanted to say.....

what a wonderful post and tribute. I've read and admired Mike's journalism many times over the years, seen him speak at conferences, and met and talked with him once, last year. He was obviously busy, had lots to do, and probably just wanted to leave, but he stopped and sat with me to answer my questions and to talk - knowledgably, passionately and humorously - about education. It was a conversation is shall treasure. My condolences to you and your family, and may you find comfort and solace amidst the sadness.

Sheila Dainton - 28 Sep 2012

The love goes on

Thank you Chrissy. Such a deeply moving tribute written with compassion and love. Mike was quite simply one of the best. I feel sure that, for those of us who knew him, there will always be a Mike-shaped space in our hearts. The love goes on, perhaps more strongly than ever in these strange and unfamiliar times. My warmest wishes to you and your family.

Magali - 28 Sep 2012

Beautiful words

Oh Christine, what beautiful words. It gives us enormous comfort to know about the moments of pleasure you all took in Mike's last days. I particularly love the idea of him relishing that ice cream, and of you all sitting around and singing.

You, Mike, Louise and Rachel are amazing. So quietly determined to be positive and joyful throughout. It really is an inspiration.

Sending you love and peace and strength. xxx

Sarah Ebner - 28 Sep 2012

What a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing with us. I hope you and the girls are okay and can look back on all the many happy memories that you shared together.
Mike was a great journalist, and a wonderful man, and very highly respected.

Wendy Jones - 28 Sep 2012

Mike - a great colleague

Dear Chrissy
Just want to say thanks for writing that - hard for you but I'm sure much appreciated by all Mike's friends, colleagues and admirers. We've never met but I heard a lot about you from Mike (we were colleagues over many years and kept in touch professionally after the beeb). I'm proud to have known him - he was a remarkable man.

Very best wishes to you and your daughters.

Iain Hulland - 28 Sep 2012

Thank You

Dear Chrissie

I know I will not be the only man moved to tears by your touching and inspiring continuation of Mike's blog. He was indeed the best of men. I hope it helps, even if only a little, to know that there are so many of us thinking of you, Louise and Rachel, and admiring your courage. Love and best wishes to you all.

Suzy Rowley - 28 Sep 2012

Thank you

Dear Chrissie,
What a very beautiful farewell,thank you so much for sharing it with us all.
I am sure he would have heard "When the Saints",and loved you girls singing it.
I remember him belting it out on his trombone when he was a member of East Street Jazz in Braintree,back in 1970 something.
What a wonderful life he has had , great friends, a job he loved and the most loving and supportive family.
Love to you all and to his parents,Brother and sisters.
With love Suzy Rowley (Donkin)

Maddie McGowan - 28 Sep 2012


I realise, reading your post Chrissie, and the posts of others, that not only do I have to say goodbye to Mike, but also to this blog. It's become, quietly, a bit of a refuge where I have found space to contemplate the things that are important. Thank you you Mike and also to fellow blog followers for all you have contributed. I will move heaven and earth to get to Kingston. Chrissy, when all this is over and you feel the loss most keenly, I hope you'll find some comfort in this as his legacy to all of us.

So many best wishes,


Andy Day - 29 Sep 2012

The Journey

Chrissy, you have produced such a seamless coda to Mike's narrative of his journey. There will be many worthy accolades to this amazing family. And yet I suspect that you feel that you are all a very 'ordinary' family, facing up to a fate over which you had little control or choice. That Mike allowed us to accompany you all upon this ultimate trek is testimony to the courage of the four of you; that he reported it in whole so honestly and profoundly is more - it has allowed us to imagine our own futures in whatever partnerships we inhabit. Some of us will face what Mike has encountered; some of us what you have had to witness; and some of us what Louise and Rachel have had to accept. That it has all been written so courageously will, I know, bolster us when we encounter this moment ourselves. When Mike wrote in a late blog about breaking down and crying with frustration in hospital - it was so moving but also so typical of his integrity to report the truth, that it will leave an indelible mark of courage on all of us who follow a similar path. Personally, I feel strengthened if I should ever face a similar prospect to Mike, that it can be embraced with dignity, humour and a sense of the richness of life. If it is in your shadow, that it can be undertaken with courage and celebration. My final hope is that Mike was aware of the affection and sincere respect which he occasioned from such a wide sphere and cross-section of the country. He made his mark,and he made it well. And the three of you who remain reflect that gloriously.

Ian Cremer - 29 Sep 2012

Memories of Mike

I went to primary and junior school with Mike (or Michael as he was called then) where we were good friends. I recall he informed me that I had passed my 11-plus before I had heard! Then he went on to Colchester Grammar and I went to Braintree High School. I've followed his career with interest and am the proud owner of a signed copy of his book on Braintree. My condolences to all the Baker family.

Simon Rees - 30 Sep 2012

Mike Baker

Dear Chrissie, as an old school and university friend of Mike's (fiddle to his trombone in the CRGS orchestra) I want to send my deepest sympathy and thanks for all his wonderful work as an education correspondent and communicator of brilliance, compassion and kindness.

Sean Coughlan - 01 Oct 2012


That is such a lovely tender account and rings so true to the Mike I knew at work at the BBC.

Alan Parker - 01 Oct 2012

Dear Chrissey

I was shocked to discover from the TES obituary that Mike has died. I regret to say that that I was even unaware he was ill - I guess it is because I am not a big user of electronic social networking. My first impulse was to write an old fashioned letter but I am not sure that you will still be at the Kingston address. So, having now found the blog, I am communicating this way - but I would prefer it if this was not published to the world.

Like Nigel de Gruchy (who analysis is spot on) I first met Mike in the 80s when he moved across to specialise in Education journalism. To get briefed he registered for an Open University module in ‘Education Policy Making’ and I was assigned as his tutor. He was not only my best student that year but also for the whole time I was teaching the course. It was perhaps typical of him that he kept quiet about his motivation for studying and I twigged only when I subsequently saw him on TV. I got to know him better during the 90’s as Education Officer at the AMA as a fairly frequent source of stories.

Latterly I we were in touch less frequently but I introduced him to an occasional dining club - the Education Reform Group and we shared some good evenings there. The last time I spoke to him was in 2007 when he was kind enough to write a generous foreword for my book on the Education Inspections Act 2006.

As a professional educationist I routinely rail against media errors and distortions. Mike was a great exception to all that. He took great care to research and understand the facts before applying his considerable critical intelligence so that he could inform his audience with wit and clarity. The education community will miss him greatly - but that is nothing compared to your loss.

I will look out for details of his memorial service and hope to be there

Yours sincerely
Alan Parker

Fiona Montague - 02 Oct 2012

Goodbye and Thank you to Mike

Dear Chrissey
So pleased to have met Mike, and what a moving end to the blog. We were lucky enough to have worked with Mike on the STAR Awards, Academy Network to name a incredible host. We would very much like to attend Mike`s memorial service, so will keep checking on here. Our thoughts are with you, and your family. Take care Fiona and Maurice (Fairlie McKenzie) xx

Matt Morris - 02 Oct 2012

Memories of Mike

I have so many professional memories of Mike from all those years at the BBC, all of them warm. But one memory stands out, from a golden day at -- I think -- Bighton in Hampshire, playing for the old Radio Newsroom cricket team. I can still see Mike sprinting around the boundary, arms spread and hands cupped to receive the ball before returning it; so athletic, so eager. With such gifts and such a family, he was a lucky man.

Keith Curtis - 02 Oct 2012


Dear Chrissy,

As one of the early members of the “61” crowd, I had long moved on by the time that you and Mike were about. Nevertheless we met several times, most especially at a few of those wonderful August Bank Holiday cricket-and-much-else weekends at Southill in Somerset. Like so many others, I have been extraordinarily impressed by Mike’s story and how he told it over the past 18 months. What you have written between you will without doubt inspire and comfort very many others who will come to tread a similar path. Mike will be remembered by so very many.

Fiona Millar - 03 Oct 2012


Thank you for writing this. It conjured up images of Mike so vividly. We knew him as a great journalist but he was so obviously a wonderful father and husband as well. Terrible loss for you..and all the rest of us.

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