It is with great sadness that we write to inform all in the school community of the death of founding Principal Tom Noble. Tom was a driving force behind the integrated education movement in Enniskillen and it is no exaggeration to say that without Tom's energy, vision and industry, Erne Integrated College simply would not exist.
From the early days on the Silverhill site and with a small but dedicated staff, Tom was instrumental in guiding the college to the thriving hub of excellence in learning that it is today. Education for Tom was about much more than academic achievement. For him, education was about every single child doing their utmost to achieve their personal best. As Tom has so often said, “behind every exam result there is a very individual story.” As a Principal Tom knew every single student personally, he took a specific interest in their lives and celebrated their successes in the exam hall, the sports field, the stage and indeed the workplace. Tom took great delight in following the life-paths of alumni and nothing gave him greater pleasure than bumping into former students and having a catch-up. He was always an advocate for the child and a champion for fair play. Gifted with incredible empathy, Tom put the needs of the student to the fore and gave every one the understanding and opportunities they deserved – for Tom the holistic well-being of every child was an inexhaustible journey.
All who knew Tom knew that he was a man with a powerful intellect who was driven by a sense of equity and justice and who worked for betterment of the whole community. Not only was he a proponent of integrated education – he was one of its visionaries. To his staff, Tom was the soul of caring, compassion and support. He was an incredibly good listener, the dispenser of wise and well-considered advice and an optimist with an indefatigable sense of humour. Always conscious that colleagues should progress and develop in the professional sphere, Tom had a healthy concern for the personal growth of his staff and took a keen interest in the lives of their families and worked to nurture an intimate feeling of community within the school.
Little did we know that Tom's final formal appearance at the school was to lead a whole-school assembly on NICIE's “Big Small Stories” project on 21st of March 2017. As always, Tom as a theatrical and engaging public speaker held the entire school community in the palm of his hand as he regaled us with stories about the foundation of the school, its journey from very humble beginnings, the challenges presented to those brave pioneering souls and the successes that were to come. In Tom’s witty, relaxed and masterful style he brought to life history in the making. Fittingly, as Tom concluded his speech and looked around he was greeted by a standing ovation and thunderous applause.
Tom's passing has come as a terrible shock to us all, but we feel proud and privileged to have known a man who embodied all that is best in humanity and one who made better the lives of all those whom he touched. He was equally comfortable chatting with his fellow Fermanagh folks as he was speaking to a government minister. Tom will always have a very special place in the heart of our school as our legendary founding Principal and in the history of integrated education a movement which has done so much to heal divisions in our post-conflict society. We extend our most sincere sympathies to his wife Mary, children; Gareth, Gavin, Marie-Claire, Mark and Sarah-Louise and the wider Noble family circle. May he rest in peace.