Tributes to tragic teacher

EMOTIONAL tributes have been paid today to an inspirational young Suffolk teacher who has died suddenly.

EMOTIONAL tributes have been paid today to an inspirational young Suffolk teacher who has died suddenly.

Kate Talmadge, 27, passed away on Thursday morning as she slept at her home in Thorney Road, Capel St Mary, where she lived with her parents.

She was a well-known figure in Ipswich and Stowmarket having taught hundreds of students at Holywells High School as an art teacher prior to moving to a new role at Combs Middle School last September.

Her parents Steve and Rachel, and 24-year-old sister Alice, said she was a remarkable woman.

The family said: “We have just lost somebody who is very precious to us.

“She brought so much joy to so many people.”

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Terry Duffell, headteacher at Holywells High School in Ipswich, said Miss Talmadge, who joined the school in September 2004, showed an amazing ability to connect with students and those who knew her were devastated by the news.

He described her as a unique and inspirational character.

He said: “It was clear from the outset she had a great deal of potential.

“She was very committed and creative and had a buoyant personality, engaging well with pupils and motivating them effortlessly.

“She very quickly developed an excellent rapport with almost every student and achieved astonishing results.

“We have a number of pieces on display at Ipswich Hospital produced by some of our students and it is testament to the calibre of work Kate was able to get out of them.

“She was renowned for being a person who through her wide range of talents could engage pupils in art and other subjects.

“Where ordinarily they would have perhaps been quite indifferent to the subject, she instilled a genuine interest in a way that was quite exceptional.”

Mr Duffell said students were “very upset” when she moved on to a new position at Combs Middle School.

He added: “People are understandably devastated about the news.

“We hold very fond memories of Kate.”

The school is currently planning to pay a permanent tribute to Miss Talmadge possibly launching an award in her name or dedicating an area of the school to her.

Ian Crissell, headteacher at Combs Middle School, said: “The tragic death of Kate has devastated all of us at Combs Middle School.

“Since her arrival last September she has proved to be a popular and talented member of our school.

“She related to people in a sympathetic and understanding manner and the pupils adored her.

“She will be sadly missed. Our deepest condolences go out to her family at this extremely difficult time.

Tracy Crow, chair of governors at the school, said: “This has come as a terrible shock and our thoughts are with Kate's family at this time.

“She was a very popular and respected teacher at Combs Middle School and will be greatly missed by staff and pupils.

The cause of Miss Talmadge's death is not yet known.

n. Would you like to pay tribute to Miss Talmadge? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail or go on to the Evening Star website at

In 1998 Miss Talmadge appeared in the Evening Star after winning an art award and meeting Prince Charles as part of his 50th birthday celebrations.

Studying A levels at Ipswich's Northgate School, the then 17-year-old created a work depicting the British Isles made up of sections of her favourite works of art.

It was selected by the Prince to help mark his milestone birthday and was displayed as part of an exhibition at London's Hampton Court Palace.

Besides art, her other achievements include representing Suffolk at netball.