In late 2009, I was set to give a speech in Madrid and received an email asking if I'd also be available to take part in an interview for a TV programme in Spain called REDES.
I was flattered and more than happy to take part.
The day arrived and after my keynote, I was escorted to a makeshift studio on the top floor of the same building.
I was met by a charming man who looked a little like a mad professor, Eduard Punset.
At the time, I had no idea who he was but was quickly aware of his warmth and intellect. He had just read my first book, Creating Tomorrow’s Schools Today, and was fascinated by the story of Grange, the school where I had been headteacher.
He spoke passionately about the need for education transformation which I later discovered was something he had been advocating for many years throughout his multifaceted career as an economist, author, politician, teacher and broadcaster.
The interview lasted an hour but we continued to talk until we parted. Eduard promised me dinner when I next returned to Madrid.
A few months passed and I have to confess I didn’t think too much about the programme until suddenly my website, email and social media accounts went crazy.
The programme had been broadcast and it turns out REDES was one of Spain’s most popular current affairs programmes and Eduard, the Latin equivalent of David Frost. His humility was such, that I had had no idea.
A few weeks after the show aired, I was back in Madrid and, good as his word, Eduard invited me to dinner. As we emerged from the car outside the restaurant he was mobbed by people young and old; they wanted to shake his hand or have a picture with him.
He accommodated every one of them.
I feel very fortunate to have met Eduard and experienced his wisdom, friendship, humility and encouragement. He was a true genius, committed to bringing people together, advocating for constructive debate and encouraging education for everyone.
I, like millions of people, will miss him dearly. He was and remains a very significant role model.
You can read more about Eduard's extraordinary career here: https://www.eduardpunset.es/biografia/