Today, St. David’s Day, would have been my good friend’s Dai Barnes‘ birthday. Tragically, he didn’t live to celebrate it, passing away suddenly last August.
While the sharp, shocking pain of his loss has subsided a little over the last six months, there remains a gaping Dai-shaped hole in the life of his friends.
Rather than wallowing, though, we’re celebrating Dai’s special mention in the Edtech 50 and planning a small gathering this August to walk in the Peak District.
We’ll firm up plans over the next few months but today, on the day when Dai would have turned 49 years old, we’re raising a glass, and never forgetting the impact he had on our lives.
If you’d like to join us on the walk, which will be a small, intimate gathering for those who knew Dai well, please get in touch.
Dai Barnes was my partner in crime. We’d posse up, steal some horses, perhaps rob a bank, and then have a dramatic shoot-out with the law. All the while on PS4 voice chat.
Not only would we talk about how much of a great game Red Dead Redemption 2 is, but also life, the world, and everything. Dai would swear like a sailor. We’d laugh. We’d tell each other stuff we probably wouldn’t have shared with other people.
Men don’t really call one another up and just ‘have a chat’, which is one of the reasons why I found recording the TIDE podcast with Dai so amazing. We recorded TIDE for just over four years, from March 2015 until this June. It was just like having a chat with a mate while drinking whisky, that just happened to also be a podcast.
TIDE didn’t come from nowhere. Dai and I met in October 2014 in a Newcastle coffee shop when he was up for an event. I hadn’t seen him for a few years, and had a actually forgotten he went barefoot. We talked about how we missed the good old days of EdTechRoundUp, which was between about 2007 and 2011.
Dai was a bit of an enigma. At the same time as there being layers and layers to him that you’d peel back as conversations unfolded, he also wore his heart on his sleeve. I’ve never known anyone like him. He was fiercely loyal, but (I’ve learned) also kept his friendship groups separate.
He was around a decade older than me, but it didn’t feel like that at all. Dai had such a youthful exuberance about him and I’ve never met anyone who had such an affinity with kids. It really was his mission in life to be the best educator he could possibly be.
If there’s anything that Dai’s taught me over the years, and I feel like he’s taught me a lot, it’s that there’s nothing so important as human relationships. He also taught me a healthy dose of pragmatism gets shit done. And finally, knowing a little of his personal life, he demonstrated how to keep it all together and show courage under fire. What a guy.
I miss him.
Dai Barnes passed away suddenly in his sleep after a camping trip with friends in Idaho, USA on the night of Thursday 1st / Friday 2nd August 2019.
Ways to remember Dai:
- Write a blog post (see Christian, Tim, Aaron), compose a poem, record a song, or paint a picture. You could share using the #RIPDai hashtag on Twitter.
- Contribute to the #barefootfordai hashtag on Twitter (and Flipgrid)
- A few of us a planning a memorial episode of TIDE for later this month for which we’ll be taking audio contributions. Whether you knew Dai well or fleetingly, please have a think about what you could say, and we’ll feature your contributions.
Finally, I’d like to thank Amy Burvall and Eylan Ezekiel for their love, support, and organisational skills. Also, the edtech community, whose outpouring of affection for Dai has been touching.
Please message Amy, Eylan, or me for Dai’s parents’ address should you wish to send something. I believe they are collecting tweets and other online contributions into a book.