Mr Russell  Valentine Gardner, MLA (Uttarakhand) was born on 17th December 1946 in an illustrious Anglo-Indian family with a British Military background; his lineage goes back to Colonel Lineaus Gardner, who established the ”  Gardner’s Horse” which is now known as the Second Lancers of the Indian Army.  He has been a legendary Principal heading St. Thomas’ College since 1980. 

In the year 1916,  St. Thomas’ College was founded by a group of Anglo-Indian and European philanthropists located in the heart of the city of Dehradun to impart English medium education with its motto “BUILD YE HIGH AND BUILD YE TRUE.”  

Mr Gardner took over as the 13th Principal of the school. Living up to the school's motto,  Sir is a stalwart leader, a pillar of stability, and a beacon of dedication.  Sir’s unwavering passion for education, foresight, and expertise have led St. Thomas’ College into its 107th glorious year and created a niche for itself in the education world. He has made a remarkable contribution of 57 years in the field of education, heading this premier institution for over 43 years now. 

Sir holds a postgraduate degree in history and has completed TTC at Allahabad. He started his teaching career at Boy’s High School,  Allahabad. After teaching there for 6 years, he moved to Bishop School, Pune, where he taught for two years. From 1975 to 1980, Sir rendered his services at Cambrian Hall, Dehradun, and in July 1980, he was appointed as a Vice Principal of St. Thomas’s College, where, within a span of two and half months, he took over as the Principal, St. Thomas’ College. 

Under Sir’s principalship, the school has always attained 100% academic board results. As a principal, he has inspired and influenced the lives of hundreds of students graduating from the school annually.  This is evident in the school's robust alum network and the students' unwavering dedication to their alma mater. Working ardently every year, he provides free shipping to over 132 students from families in weaker sections of society and the children of Kargil War heroes and the martyrs of the Uttarakhand movement.  With constant dedication, Mr Gardner tirelessly advocates for the well-being of his staff, ensuring a supportive and nurturing environment where every member of the staff feels valued, empowered, and equipped to excel in their roles.

During the Covind-19 pandemic, he demonstrated exceptional care for his staff, ensuring the well-being of both teaching and non-teaching personnel. Further, he significantly contributed to the broader society during the troubled time, exemplifying his commitment to societal welfare. 

Mr Gardner had the blessing of meeting Mother Teresa in the year 1987. Her spirit of service and compassion have motivated him to challenge his resources, time, and energy toward making a positive difference in the lives of others. 

Mr Gardner’s devotion to his family is genuinely commendable. Celebrating 54 years of marriage to Mrs. Violet Rita Gardner, he treasures his role as a loving father to Michelle and Jude Gardner. He revels in the joy of being a grandfather to five grandchildren and great-grandfather to two great-grandchildren. Mrs. V.R. Gardner has consistently been a pillar of support within the family and beyond. Her charming presence radiates not only within the household but also influences the lives of their children. As an esteemed educator herself, Ma’am has completed over 59 years in the field of education.  She played a pivotal role alongside Mr Gardner in establishing St. Jude’s School, Dehradun. Presently, she assumes the esteemed position of the Director of the school, overseeing the continued success of St. Jude’s School. 

His daughter,  Michelle Gardner, holds a graduate degree from the University of Western Sydney, NSW, Australia, and a postgraduate degree from Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, NSW, Australia.  Inheriting her father’s legacy of education, she has seamlessly carried it forward, starting as a vice principal at St. Jude’s School; her relentless dedication and hard work have now led her to take over the role of the Principal of St. Jude’s School. Under Mr Gardner’s visionary leadership and the conscientious efforts of Mrs. V. R. Gardner and Ms. Michelle Gardner, St. Jude’s School is one of the top 100 schools in the country.    

His son Jude Gardner has settled as a successful banker in Australia. He holds an MBA degree from the University of Sunshine Coast, Australia. He is also a philanthropist and a sports enthusiast following his father's footsteps, particularly in Hockey and Cricket. 

Mr Gardner’s esteemed leadership extends across various coveted positions, as the president of the Board of Governors of Carman School, Dalanwala, Dehradun,  Carman School,  Premnagar,  Dehradun, and St Jude’s School, Dehradun.  He is also the President of the Uttarakhand State Basketball Association and Anglo Indian Association, Uttarakhand (Dehradun Branch).  He is the founder and president of the Dehradun Council School Principal’s Association. Sir is a member of the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations, New Delhi for the Standing Committee for examinations, Award Committee, Finance Sub-Committee, Building  Sub-Committee, Inter-State Board for Anglo- Indian Education as well as a member of the Sub-Committee on Strategic Management. He is also an honorable member of the Board of Governors of Bala Hissar Academy, Friends of Doon, and Dehradun District Sports Association. Mr Gardner has been the Inspector of Schools for the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations, New Delhi, for the last 32 years.  

Mr Gardner’s multifaceted contributions and positive impact on the educational sector and the broader community have been felicitated repeatedly. He is a proud recipient of number of awards a few to name are  The Derozio Award for education and human enrichment by the council for the ISC Examinations, New Delhi, in 2004, 5th  CBSE/ICSCE Pariksha Award for school education  by M/s Rachna Publications Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, in 2006, Honouring Principals for Excellence in the field of school education by Lions’ Club Shivalik, Dehradun in 2006, The Bharatiya Shiksha Gold Medal Award for contribution  in education and social service  by the All India Business Development Association, New Delhi, in 2007, Avantika Guru Dronacharya Samman in 2007 by Avantika Group  for his remarkable contribution in nation building, social welfare, environment protection, education and promotion of Indian art, culture, dance and  music as well as National Award for Teachers by  the Ministry of Human Resource and Development, Government of India for his outstanding contributions in the field of education by the then Hon’ble President of India, Mrs Pratibha Patil on 5th  September, 2007 

Mr Gardner’s significant contributions to the state of Uttarakhand and his outstanding achievements in the field of education have also been acknowledged by the state government by conferring him with the Uttaranchal  Ratna Award in 2004, by Nagarik Parishad, Dehradun, Uttarakhand Ratna Award, in 2007, for excellence in the field of modern education by the All India Conference of intellectuals, New Delhi and The Pride of Uttarakhand, in 2007, for contribution in the field of education and social welfare of the community.

Mr Gardner has not only focused on academics but also valued fitness, sportsmanship, and the overall well-being of his students. Being an excellent sportsperson,  Sir has played first-class cricket and hockey.  He is a trained NCC Officer and has won “Cane of Honour” as the best officer trainee at Kamptee, Nagpur (Maharashtra). He was also declared the Best Commander NCC in the whole Allahabad district. His passion for sports continues as he has started Gardner Premier League - Indoor Cricket for both boys and girls. Every year, many schools look forward to participating in this event. 

On completing 25 years as a principal of St. Thomas’ College, Mr. Gardner started The Gardner Silver Jubilee indoor Basketball Tournament for girls, a much-awaited event amongst the city's students. 

The Indoor Staff Badminton Tournament initiated by Mr Gardner at St. Thomas’ College in 1986 has become a highly anticipated event, drawing participation from numerous schools each year. Its popularity speaks for itself about the success and positive impact of Mr Gardner’s initiative in promoting sports and fostering camaraderie amongst the staff at various schools in Dehradun.  His love and dedication to sports were recognized and celebrated by the Cricket Association of Uttarakhand with the Silver Jubilee Award of Uttarakhand Cricket Association in 2007. 

Since Sir took over St. Thomas’ College as the Principal, he has been committed to empowering the girl child through education and equal participation in various activities.  Now, almost 40 percent of St. Thomas's students are female.  It is his endeavors that girls at St. Thomas excel in sports, debates, elocution, quizzes, dances, and singing. He’s fostering a culture of equality and confidence amongst the girls.  This approach has benefitted the individual girls and contributed to a more inclusive and empowered society.  

Mr Rajeev Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India, greatly impacted him and encouraged him to participate in politics. He had been elected to the Legislative Assembly, Uttarakhand, twice, representing the Anglo-Indian Society. Mr Gardner’s tenure as an MLA  has been marked by significant infrastructural development and community support initiatives. His leadership has facilitated constructing and repairing roads in and around Dehradun and Garhwal Hills, boundary walls of  Cemeteries, Idgahs, Gurudwaras, Churches, and schools. Providing Digital Centers, constructing classrooms and libraries in various government schools, and passenger sheds on roadsides. His concern for a healthy and sustainable environment has been reflected in his initiatives for water harvesting, conservation projects, and tree plantations.

He is a humble, simple, hardworking, and God-loving human being. His deep baritone voice and powerful speeches and messages are etched into the school’s history.  Sir’s philosophy of building physically and emotionally fit individuals underscores the importance of resilience and determination in overcoming challenges. By cultivating physical and emotional strength, he empowers his students to confront adversity with confidence and determination, instilling a never-say-die attitude. His message to students is to be honest with themselves and trust their abilities, for success is not measured solely by grades but by the effort and fortitude they demonstrate. They must be focused and attuned to God’s will, guiding them to success and fulfillment in life.