I first met Clarence when I was a young bank cashier learning how to transmit foreign currency and he was the star overseas basketball player for Derby Bucks. Every week he’d come in and buy an International Money Order to send some money back home to Richmond, Virginia. At first I was quite star struck – serving a famous sportsman. But within a couple of weeks we were chatting like old mates. Clarence was not a star; he was an ordinary, thoroughly decent man. He had no ego – he was more interested in me than in spouting stories about himself.
Fast forward 20 years and our paths cross once again. We have changed careers, we are now teachers, but both of us immediately recalled where we had met before. Talking to Clarence was so easy – he had plenty of life advice to give, but only after he had listened to what you had to say. Too many people are only interested in themselves these days – that’s never something that could be levelled at Clarence.
As well as a prospective teaching career I also worked as a freelance writer for The Derbyshire Magazine as a sports correspondent. I managed to convince Clarence to let me interview him for a forthcoming edition. I think he only agreed as we had become quite friendly whilst working at Noel-Baker, it was more of an indulgence to me than any ego trip on his behalf.
It was a great piece and hopefully I’ve managed to attach it to the bottom of this post so you can see it for yourself.
A few months later I brought some of my journalistic work into school for my Year 11 class, hoping they’d be inspired to write themselves. It didn’t work.
However one lad, with a troubled family background, seemed particularly disinterested until I pointed out the article about Clarence. It was the first time I had seen him sit down and read something from beginning to end without talking. And it wasn’t my writing that did it – it was Clarence and his story. The lad loved Mr Wiggins and wanted to know all about him.
Well, we all loved Mr Wiggins. A man with a profound sense of right and wrong. A man with an innate understanding of the value of teamwork. A man of decency and integrity. A man we shall all miss terribly.
God bless you, Clarence.