Stoke by Clare: Community mourns sudden death of headteacher

TRIBUTES were last night paid to a Suffolk headteacher who died just months before he was due to retire.

John Gibson had been headteacher at Stoke College, in Stoke by Clare for 15 years.

He died suddenly on Monday morning.

The 56-year-old was set to retire in September to study for a second degree in history. Mr Gibson’s first degree was in geography.

Gwen Caddock, chairman of the independent school’s governing body, said his death had left the school reeling with “a tremendous sense of loss”.

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She said: “He was a wonderfully warm, funny and vibrant man, who will be hugely missed by staff, pupils and parents alike.

“He leaves a wife, two daughters and three grandchildren.”

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The school’s senior pupils were told of Mr Gibson’s death on Monday afternoon and parents of junior school pupils were asked to break the news to their children when they arrived at home that day.

Ms Caddock said: “School will be open as usual for the rest of the week.

“We feel that it is important for the pupils to have the security of their timetable and routine of school.

“Matthew Parker has been confirmed in the post of head, as was planned for the autumn term.

“We have Mrs Gibson and her family in our thoughts.”

Mr Gibson’s secretary Trish Sample said when she asked his colleagues how they would remember him they had used words and phrases such as “funny”, “warm”, “vibrant, a “charismatic guitar-playing storyteller” and the “original friendly giant” who had died at a “tragically young age”.

A book of condolence has been opened in the college’s library for pupils and staff who want to sign it.

Mr Gibson’s funeral will be held at the church of Saint Peter and Paul, in Clare, at 3pm, next Wednesday, February 23, and a memorial service will be held at a later date.

No flowers, but donations to Save The Children, on 0207 0126400, reference 41508818.

All donations will be used to build a classroom in a school for children living in a Third World country.

Stoke College caters for children aged from three to 16.

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