Pupils pay tribute to Stuart

PUPILS returned to school yesterday and paid a poignant tribute to one of their classmates who died in a tragic accident while on a half-term skiing trip.

By David Lennard

PUPILS returned to school yesterday and paid a poignant tribute to one of their classmates who died in a tragic accident while on a half-term skiing trip.

It was the first day back at school for pupils of Thomas Mills High School, Framlingham, after the half-term break.

In that week, 14-year-old Stuart Dines, of Woodbridge, was killed when a coach carrying staff and youngsters was involved in an accident on a German autobahn near Cologne on Saturday, February 11.

The school's flag was flying at half-mast and scores of floral tributes had been placed near the main entrance to the school during the half-term break.

Specialist counsellors were also at the school and were available to offer any help to staff or pupils.

Most Read

Head teacher Colin Hirst acknowledged that it would be a difficult time for everyone who was on the skiing trip as they returned to school.

He said: “It is very important that everyone in the Thomas Mills High School community is extremely sensitive and thoughtful about the feelings and experiences of those on the ski trip as we return to school.

“I have asked students and teachers to show the utmost care and consideration for those directly involved in the accident and to one another in coming to terms with what has happened.”

A special statement prepared by Mr Hirst is being read to every class at the school so that all the pupils have the same information.

“A series of assemblies will be held this week which will enable all of us to reflect on the sad loss of Stuart Dines,” he said.

“In due course, and together with Stuart's family, we will be finding a way to celebrate his life and place in the school.

“Our thoughts remain with Stuart's family.”

The headteacher said that the school had received messages of sympathy and offers of support not only from the local community but from across the country and even abroad.

“The close-knit community of the Framlingham area has meant that that everyone has pulled together but we have been helped by so many people nationally and internationally offering their assistance,” he added.

Stuart's family visited the school during the half-term break to see the floral tributes for themselves, said Mr Hirst.

A specialist team of educational psychologists lead by Bill Herbert have been working with the children throughout the half-term break and were also at the school yesterday.

Mr Herbert said: “Our job is to work with the school and community to support parents, pupils and teachers where we can. The loss of a child is extremely sad and we all find it hard to cope at such times.”

Mr Herbert, County Educational Psychologist at Suffolk County Council, said his team would remain at the school as long as they were needed.

“The best way of coping in a school is to maintain a normal timetable but to acknowledge the need of children and adults to talk through their loss,” he added.

Prayers for Stuart's family and staff and pupils of Thomas Mills High School were said in churches throughout Suffolk on Sunday.

The Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Rt Rev Richard Lewis, said: “My thoughts and prayers are with all caught up in this tragic accident, especially with the bereaved families.

“I'm sure that the staff of Thomas Mills High School and Suffolk County Council will do all they can to support the pupils and families at this time.”

Ron Lees, a relief driver and school secretary Jane Irving, both from Norfolk, who were on board a second coach involved in the accident also died as a result of the crash.

German police have carried out a thorough investigation into the accident and have been questioning the driver of a lorry also involved in the crash.

A spokesman for the highway police in Cologne said that a report on the accident had been sent to the area's district attorney who would make a decision on whether any charges should be brought against anyone involved in the crash.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter