Tribute to Dr. Roy Preece

01 May 2024 by Suyen Hu

“There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will be in our hearts.”

~Mahatma Gandhi

It’s sad to announce that our tutor and best friend Dr Roy Preece passed away in early April. I would like to share my stories with you about him as my tutor.   

The first day I met Roy wasn’t because I was the best student at university, but because I almost failed my course. The first thing Roy said to me was about how he would help me to survive. So I started to see him every Thursday for my study.

One day, I carried many books to see Roy. He thought I read poems. But I bought the books because the covers were beautiful. I had no idea they were about English poetry. Roy didn’t seem to care about my idea of using books to decorate my room, he tried to teach me how to read poems. 

The first poem he read to me was Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Roy told me to feel the rhythm. But, it was too difficult for me to understand anything then. I was very lost. Roy sent me the poem and his interpretation through email so I could study at home. 

When I saw his email, I was so touched because he had so many students and was very busy, how kind he was to spare some time for me to learn about England, though later he told me he hurt his back and couldn’t go with his family to celebrate Christmas, so he got time to write me emails. I was just lucky.

It wasn’t easy for me to understand Roy’s teaching then, and it was a huge challenge to write down my ideas; it took me two days or three to finally send off my response. Roy sent me another poem and I spent another two to three days reading and replying to his email, and then he sent me more and more during the vacation without realising how hard it was for me to study English poetry.

All my hard work paid off! Roy was very surprised to see my improvement. My course leader also noticed that my academic performance was getting so much better after the vacation, and was pleased to know that I was ok to pass my course, thanks to Roy’s help.

At first I thought Roy was teaching me how to enjoy English poetry with my own imagination, but gradually I realised I’ve been educated by England through Roy’s guidance. I learnt from England that the meaning of life is to help other people. Roy often said: ‘The best thing to learn about different cultures is to discover how similar we are, not how different we are.’ 

We have been promoting intercultural understanding together through books and events. In order to reach Roy’s high standards for books we all worked very hard between Taiwan and England. It usually took us over a year to produce one picture story book based on classical Chinese culture, because Roy cared about each detail and word choice. He discussed almost every single word with me to make sure the stories would be understandable and enjoyable for British readers. 

We also went to many museums, libraries and schools to deliver charitable events with the aim of helping more local families to learn about East Asian culture. Our events had been very successful and popular, therefore many East Asian people over the world were so touched and decided to learn about our own roots. Roy’s kindness and support mean so much for many of us from the Far East. 

Roy would be very pleased to see his teaching has been passed on to share with more people, so we will post a piece of English poem with his interpretations regularly to spread his love and compassion to the world.