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Jeff Argent, school caretaker

Death in alleged road rage leaves community in shock

Written by . Published on October 9th 2013.

Jeff Argent, school caretaker

I MAKE no apologies for writing a note about Jeff Argent. Yes, you don't know his name. However until yesterday neither did I - and I rather wish it had stayed that way. 

He almost certainly won't have known my name either, and he would undoubtedly be surprised to find he was being written about here. 


Too often only the self aggrandising good,
the famous or the not-so-good are
documented in life or death


I saw Jeff Argent most days of the week. He was the caretaker at my youngest son's school and on those most days, no matter how frantic the morning or grim the afternoon had evolved, his reassuring smile was a constant - a fixed point, as reliable as the aura he seemed to exude to all who passed his way. 

Jeff Argent, Mr Argent, was killed in a car crash on the Formby bypass this week. He had gone for a flu jab. 

It is believed there was an altercation at traffic lights, it is being billed as a road rage incident. 

 Another man in another vehicle has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving. Because of this and legality there is no rant box on this story. 

It wasn't hard to figure something bad had happened the night before when, as a parent, I suddenly received a flurry of "round robin" texts from the school office, out of hours. All manner of school activities scheduled for the next day had been called off. Then the morning text from the head, inviting parents to “come into the school hall for a few minutes after the children had gone in”. 

The teacher was crying when she told my son's class, simply, that Mr Argent had been in a car crash and that he'd died, as was the secretary when I pulled over and called from my own car, wondering what the devil was going on. 

It goes without saying that he was their valued friend and colleague – they knew what we fleeting figures, with myriad lives, had only glimpsed. 

Today we find a whole school community numb with shock. What can they do? Set up a special memorial point in the foyer where pupils and parents can leave prayers and messages of condolence. 

The bliss of being very young is a beautiful buffer. For the wary rest, such impacts are devastating. 

Yet there are individuals who are so striking that it's only when they go do you realise they ever struck you at all. That their quiet space held a spirit of something special. I hope the innocents he protected every day will one day come to note that. 

Although Mr Argent was relatively new to the school, and was a Sefton Tourism ambassador (whatever that is), he quickly slotted in with his easy, affable manner.

Always there, in all weathers, outside the playground with a ready smile for everyone. In his high-viz jacket, never did he once display the air of a bleedin' jobs-worth, nor did he overcompensate for his role by being lippy, quippy or opinionated. But he would hang onto your bike, or the dog's lead, if need be, and hold the gate if you were legging it in late - always with a faintly amused arch of the eyebrow.

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The loss of this genial, solid and genuinely likeable man means all those frantic mornings and testing afternoons we put ourselves through just got a little less reassuring. 

I'm not sure about only the good dying young, and I cannot know, in truth, if Mr Argent was more or less human than the rest of us. It seems, however, that too often only the self aggrandising good, the famous or the not-so-good are documented in life or death.

Until those primary children have flown the feather-cushioned nest, Jeff Argent's gaping absence from his pitch - the fence outside the school gates - will be silently noted. 

Jeff Argent was 49, lived in Birkdale, and leaves a wife, Debbie, and two children.

 Tweets by @twangeee


UPDATE: (April 14, 2014) Colin Scarisbrick, 39, of no fixed abode, is jailed for 14 years for causing the death by dangerous driving of Jeff Argent. Full story here 

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