Stowmarket: Shock at tragic death of drama teacher, 31

A SCHOOL community is in mourning after the tragic death of a dedicated and much-loved teacher.

Ruth Barber, head of drama at Stowmarket High School, died in hospital in the early hours of yesterday morning after she was taken ill at her home on Friday.

Pupils and staff at the school were told the news of her death in an assembly yesterday and held a minute’s applause in tribute to the 31-year-old.

Miss Barber was taken to West Suffolk Hospital after police and ambulance crews attended her home in Dotterel Way in Stowmarket shortly before 3pm on Friday. She is believed to have suffered a cardiac arrest.

Her devastated students will be offered counselling as they come to terms with their loss. A planned Year 10 parents’ evening at the school last night was cancelled.

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Headteacher Keith Penn, who broke the news to pupils at the assembly, said the school community had been shocked and deeply saddened by Miss Barber’s death. She had worked at the school for about two years and previously worked at Chantry High School in Ipswich. It is believed she grew up in the Stowmarket area.

“She was a talented and much-loved teacher who inspired and challenged her students and all those who worked alongside her with her energy, her enthusiasm and her passion for the work she does,” said Mr Penn.

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“Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends at this time. She will be missed by us all.”

In a letter sent home to parents, Mr Penn writes: “Ruth gave everything to her work and to the school and her students and colleagues have been deeply touched by her.

“Students who have worked alongside Ruth in the school musical, those to whom she has taught drama and performance studies, those who have been involved in a wide range of trips and Flexiday activities, those for whom she has been form tutor and many, many others will all have been challenged and inspired by her love for the work she does and her determination to do the very best for each one of them.

“One example of her immense generosity of spirit was her decision to be an organ donor.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends at this time. She will be missed by us all.

“The whole school community is pulling together to support one another. We have provided a place in school where students who have been badly affected by the news can choose to go and to talk with someone, or simply to have a time of quiet and we shall continue to try to support students and staff in this way.”

Police said there were no suspicious circumstances. Miss Barber’s death has now been referred to the coroner

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