Tributes paid to blaze death teacher

A RETIRED teacher who died in a house fire along with his elderly mother was the “epitome of an English gentleman”, his devastated former colleagues have said.

A GRIEVING family has told of their shock at the deaths of a retired teacher, described as the “epitome of an English gentleman” and his elegant mother, after a house fire.

Frank Carter, who taught English at the Gilberd School in Colchester, died in the horrific blaze at the home he shared with his bed-bound mother Emilie.

The pair were trapped when their Georgian home in Land Lane, off East Hill in Colchester, caught fire in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Fire crews from across Essex were called to the scene at about 1.40am when flames took hold at the Grade II-listed property.


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Yesterday the search was continuing for a second body which police believe is still in the house.

One body was found at the site on Wednesday afternoon and a post mortem examination and formal identification will take place at a later date.

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Police said it was not known if the body recovered was male or female and the search continues for a second set of remains.

The fire is not being treated as suspicious.

Marie Bagley and her husband Norman, of High Beach in Felixstowe, have today paid heartfelt tributes to Mrs Bagley’s older sister Emilie, 94, and her nephew, who was in his 60s.

Mrs Bagley said her sister, who was 15 years her senior, was “the most elegant woman.” Mrs Carter grew up in Colchester and was educated at a boarding school in Switzerland.

She said. “She was a trained beautician and hairdresser, and even when she took to her bed she would still make sure her nails were painted. She loved reading and was happy in her huge bedroom. I used to really look up to her, she would make her own clothes.”

She said Mr Carter was a “very caring” man who had given up work in 1994 to look after his mother.

Mr Carter lived in Ipswich boarding at St Josephs College from the age of seven until he finished school at 18 and went to university.

Mrs Bagley said she remembered her nephew being “very naughty” when he was younger.

“He was very naughty when he was a boy, but with age he calmed down later on in life. He was very nice, a very, very caring man.

“He retired early to look after his mother. She had a very bad back problem and was bed-bound for the last 10 years.

“It has been a terrible shock we have not taken it in yet. It was awful, I never even thought such a thing would happen, you go through all sorts of scenarios, Francis being ill, Emilie falling but never, never did I think such a disastrous fire would take their lives.”

Mr Carter, who was a reader at the St James the Less and St Helen Catholic Church on Priory Street, had retired from teaching but continued to work part-time at the Colchester Tutorial Centre. Yesterday Gilberd School headteacher Linda Exley said: “Frank, as he was known to his colleagues, joined the Gilberd School in 1967 when it was situated on North Hill on the site occupied by the Sixth Form College today.

“He was appointed as a teacher of English, after having graduated from Kings College London.

“He is held in very high regard by colleagues who knew him and ex-students of the Gilberd.

“In 1983 he moved with the rest of the school to the current site at High Woods.

“A modest and unassuming man, Frank was the epitome of an English gentleman.

“Highly articulate and erudite, he was fortunate to have had a fine voice which brought alive the works of Shakespeare and other writers in a way in which few others could emulate.”

Mrs Exley continued: “Although a naturally quiet man, Frank enjoyed good relationships with his students and colleagues and would always make new colleagues feel welcome in the staff room.

“When he retired from full-time teaching in 1994, Frank went on to work part-time at the Colchester Tutorial Centre.

“Frank’s family was an old established Colchester family and Frank took a great interest in his home town.

“He had a simple and frugal lifestyle, he did not care much for travel, but enjoyed trips into town.

“He was often to be found browsing in the second hand bookshops and was a regular worshipper at St. James the Less and St. Helen RC church in Priory Street.

“Frank was always interested to hear news about the Gilberd and former students and colleagues.

“He was a good, kind and thoroughly decent man.”

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