Loreto College - Coleraine, Co. Derry, Northern Ireland
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18/05/2015 MR CLARKE RICE

It is with great sadness that we announce that our colleague and friend Mr Clarke Rice has passed away, following a determined and courageous battle against Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.

Clarke came to teach ICT and Mathematics at Loreto in September 2000.  A Dungannon man, Clarke had studied Computing at the University of Ulster, Coleraine, and had previously worked in programming.  He quickly involved himself in school life at Loreto, starting a Badminton Club and establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with in the annual Year 9 Boys versus Staff Soccer match on Mission Day!  Having served on numerous Schools’ Quiz teams as a student himself, Clarke got involved in organising highly successful Quiz Teams in Loreto, with awards flowing in at local and Northern Ireland level and two trips to the UK finals of the UK Schools’ Quiz.  Students were always impressed by the sheer breadth of Mr Rice’s knowledge: ‘He just knows everything!’ was a comment passed by many more students than just one.

Not only did Clarke enjoy teaching ICT to examination classes, he wrote a widely-used A level textbook with a friend and colleague.  However, Clarke’s real passion lay in the coding and programming side of his subject, and he was delighted to establish GCSE and A Level Computing in the Loreto curriculum in recent years.  Not only was Clarke dedicated to his academic subject, he was dedicated to the whole concept of education alongside his very strong faith.  Along with his wife, Alison, Clarke spent a year in Cameroon, using his computing and teaching skills on the Wycliff Bible Translation project.  He returned to Loreto, energies and enthusiasm renewed, with plans for an exciting future.

Initially diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia, Clarke returned to school after several months’ treatment in the early months of 2013.  Determined to use his experience to the benefit of others whose recovery had not been so easy, he began dedicated fund-raising for Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI.  With funds from Loreto’s 2013 Sports Day donated to the cause, Clarke and his wife Alison took part in a Moonlight Trek up and down Slieve Donard.  Only days later, however, Clarke found that his routine tests indicated that his Leukaemia had returned, this time in the Acute manifestation.  Months of aggressive chemotherapy and drug therapy followed.  The determination which Clarke had shown in guiding one or two more recalcitrant students, or battling the frustrations facing every teacher, stood him in good stead as he worked his way through relapses, treatments and taught everyone who knew him an intensely humbling lesson about valuing life, love, friendship and the simple pleasures.  Anyone who kept in touch with Clarke appreciated his comments about being able to enjoy an ice cream on Castlerock Beach on a summer day, his photos of himself enjoying days out with Alison and their nephews, or his occasional rants about the ineptitudes of local or national political leaders – which continued until his final week. Underlying the positive, cheerful words and snapshots was the courage to face seemingly endless rounds of treatment in Coleraine, Belfast City Hospital and Hammersmith Hospital, London.  Underlying it too was a continued determination to use his experience to help others: he encouraged many from Loreto to take part in the annual Leukaemia & Lymphoma Beach Walk and Table Quiz at Christmas, got involved in the charity’s Red Balloons appeal, and was in the process of preparing to become a Macmillan Volunteer during what turned out to be his final months.

Clarke passed away on 16th May 2015.  He will be sadly missed by his colleagues and friends and his former students at Loreto, who greatly appreciated his ready wit and sense of irony, his tremendous integrity and strength of character, and the faith and courage which provided an inspiration, teaching us how to face the deepest adversity with the greatest courage.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Alison and the wide circle of Clarke’s family and friends at this sad time.