The below is written by Debbie’s brother, Richard.
Deborah Knight started a new adventure on Friday 24th April 2020 at just after 3pm Dutch time. Several years ago, she mentioned that she was suffering from a lump in her breast and after some delay she went to get it diagnosed. It was cancer. For over 5 years she has been handling the cancer, I do not say fighting it as she came to terms with it and had decided not to seek conventional treatment for it. She moved to Haarlem in Holland from Chiang Mai in Thailand where this photo was taken and where she had been living for some time teaching English at the International School.
She changed her diet, simplified her life and ramped up her meditation.
For most of our childhood we lived in Geneva, Switzerland and so she already spoke French, but during her life she would add Latin, Spanish, Thai, some cantonese and finally Dutch. Through learning these languages, she created her own methods for teaching English as a foreign language and was sought after and much loved by her pupils both young and old.
During her life she followed several spiritual masters. She followed my mother to Puna, India then Oregon USA to learn the teachings of Bhagwan Shree Ragneesh. During this period, she got used to packing her bags at a moment's notice to head off to India or the USA. She would buy exotic clothing and started commissioning art and garments which she then sold in the markets in Geneva and for a while in Camden Market in the UK.
When Bhagwan died she returned to Geneva and got a Degree and then a Masters in English at the University of Geneva where a while later she was offered tenure.
During this period a former fellow Sanyasin (follower of Bhagwan) told her about Harry Palmer and the avatar course. She took the first two courses and was so entranced by what she learnt that she persuaded my brother and I to chip in to get my mother to attend the course. My mother went on to introduce me to the course and later I got my brother to the courses as well. That introduction changed my life and I owe Debs a lot for the wonders of my current circumstances.
However, my sister had hit something that sent her reeling and for some time she avoided all paths that might cause her to have to examine some deep and painful feelings. She returned to her studies.
The offer of the professorship and tenure at the University of Geneva was welcome but the thought of spending her life "stuck" in academia goaded her into action and instead of taking up the position she put all of her possessions in storage and caught the Orient Express ending her journey in a remote village in China where she offered her English teaching skills.
From there she travelled to Tibet, down through India and ended up in Sri Lanka just a month or two before the government crackdown on the Tamil Tigers - the exact part of Sri Lanka that Deb had decided to visit. Somehow, she got out just in time.
(It was not the first time that she had been close to a war zone. When studying Spanish, she would often fly to Central America and on one such visit whilst checking in at a hotel has asked the receptionist what the fireworks were for. The receptionist gave her a long look then told her that it was not fireworks it was two rival drug lords fighting it out for territory and Debs had just walked down between the two sides.)
She travelled across the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea to Thailand and set up in Chiang Mai. Whilst in Chiang Mai she heard about the guru Ratu Bagus who had developed a shaking meditation and who was based in Bali just beneath the active Mount Agung Volcano. She sent many weeks in residence at the ashram on several occasions. Again, she got my mother, my wife and I involved and we spent a week in Italy with Ratu Bagus. If ever Debs found something wonderful, she was always keen to share it with whoever would listen.
Her announcement that she had cancer came at about the same time as my Mother let us know that she too had cancer. For these last 5 years both have lived with the consequences of two different types of cancer. They had both decided that if the pain became unbearable, they would bring their own lives to an end. My mother managed this in the end by permitting the disease to run its course. She became weaker and weaker until her body could take it no longer and under sedation, she passed away in December last year.
Debs continued to teach for as long as she could, then a short while ago she moved into a hospice. It had always been clear that the cancer would be terminal but the disease had become much worse and the pain was increasing to the extent that the pain killers were no longer sufficient. Her options were to endure the pain to the end, to have slowly increased doses of painkillers until her body gave in or decide for herself when her life on this planet would end and the next adventure would begin. From what I have written above you already know that she chose to decide her own fate.
She had already spent many months preparing for her departure, ensuring all of her pupils had paths to continue their progress on and all her affairs were in order. Last week her two beloved cats were adopted by friends and she even went to check that they had settled in ok.
Last Tuesday my brother, despite the risks of COVID 19 decided to travel from Geneva to Haarlem to be with her on her chosen day. For two days he laughed with her, walked in the woods with her, told her crazy jokes and even at the end when the doctor, who was to deliver the injections, arrived late he provided levity. Both he and Debs told the doctor that she would have to come back later as Debs now had other things to do. My brother even suggested that the syringes be left to one side and that he would handle them "when convenient". They all three were laughing to the very end.
I spoke to her at 2pm on Friday and if I had not known what the next hour was due to deliver, I would have thought that the day would be like any other. We spoke about the state of the planet and the virus that is bringing the world to a halt. Then she said "time is fleeting and I have to be going".
An hour after we spoke, she was gone.
I could not be prouder of my sister, she was far braver than I will ever be, fearless in her pursuit of a great life, adamant that life would be conducted as she wanted it to be, outspoken when she felt that injustice was being dished out, courageous beyond measure in her endurance of what became a very uncomfortable condition and bold in the face death. Life has been an adventure for her. I hope whatever happens next, it lives up to her expectations.
She has told me to look out for the words "It Is True" to pop out of a page to me as she will have been behind them from the afterlife. May this be true for all of us!
Our sincere condolences to Debbie’s family and friends.
Dr. Gordon Bernard Jeffery– 86, Waterloo, Ontario, formerly of Truro, passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of Friday, January 17, 2020, at Columbia Forest Long Term Care, Waterloo, Ontario. Born in Sheerness, England to the late Cyril and Beatrice (Cox) Jeffery, Dad spent his younger years living on the island that will always be "home".
As a child evacuee of the Second World War, he gained the utmost appreciation for military service, watching the spitfires come and go and proudly becoming a member of the British Army as soon as he completed his schooling. As an adult he immigrated to Canada and became a proud British-Canadian, yet never wavering from his support of British Football and the Queen. He was awarded his PhD in Statistics, and enjoyed a fifty year career in education that spanned from teaching elementary school to Professor of Education. An avid soccer and basketball coach, amateur photographer, Boy Scout, world traveler, Garden Club member, Hubtown Theatre actor, quiet philanthropist and Historical Society member, he liked to be involved in many things and believed in supporting his community; values he passed on to his children.
Left to mourn his passing are his daughters, Heather (Steve), Sarah (Terrence), Mary Jane (Lee), Kathryn (Kurt), and their mother, Sylvia. His proudest accomplishment was that of being Grandad and he is lovingly remembered by his grandchildren, Nicholas, Nathan, Hannah, Vincent, Charlotte and Leanne; two grandchildren and four great grandchildren who he gained later in life, John (Dianne), Elizabeth (Ryan), Paige, Philip, Macey and Neil. He also leaves behind his brother, Malcolm; sister, Pauline; numerous nieces, nephews, and extended family in England, whom he loved visiting, and special friend, Ainsley Legge. Along with his parents, he was predeceased by his youngest brother, Colin, and his beloved granddaughter, Kate; it is in that same cemetery she rests that he will be buried at a later date.
We are so thankful to the amazing caregivers he has had through the years, and to his special friends who always helped to care for him, even when dad was no longer himself.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Mattatall – Varner Funeral Home, 55 Young Street, Truro, where Gordon’s family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m., Friday, January 24, 2020. Funeral service will be held 2 p.m., Saturday, January 25, 2020, at St. John’s Anglican Church, 25 Church Street, Truro, The Reverend Lori Ramsey officiating. Reception will follow at Mattatall – Varner Funeral Home, 55 Young Street, Truro. Family flowers only. If so desired, donations in Gordon’s memory to Ronald McDonald House Charities or IWK Health Centre Foundation are welcomed. Private messages of condolence may be sent to the family by viewing Gordon’s obituary on-line and selecting "Send A Condolence" at: www.mattatallvarnerfh.com
"You taught us to fly and stand strong in our own confidence –
We are passing on the very sad news that Neil Sanderson passed away on 3rd December 2020. Neil and Jen have had a long relationship with Abbotsholme.
Neil Sanderson arrived at Abbotsholme in 2005 as a Languages teacher but, as with all Abbotsholmians, this became just one of the things he did. Delighting in his true passion of cricket, he was quickly converted to being a rugby coach as well. No OEd trip was a proper OEd trip without his presence, added to which was the great contribution he made to a long run of Silver DofE training and final expeditions during Hikes and Camps, even after his enforced retirement due to illness. Always keen to be involved in international trips, he led Round Square expeditions to Costa Rica, was part of the 1st XV rugby tour to South Africa and organised and ran numerous Spanish trips. Neil became Head of Year for Year 9 and a House Tutor for Flaxfield, when it was a boys' house, and then progressed to Barnfield when his wife, Jen, took command in 2008. Standing tall and with an ever present smile and a warm sense of humour, 'Sando' was a true scholar and gentlemen.
Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Jen and their family.