HEARTFELT tributes were paid to Leeds teacher Ann Maguire as a lasting tribute was unveiled in her favourite city park.
The education centre at The Mansion in Roundhay Park was renamed The Ann Maguire Education Centre at a ceremony attended by her family and civic leaders this afternoon.
Mrs Maguire, 61, was stabbed to death by Will Cornick, who was 14 at the time, at Corpus Christi Catholic College, Halton Moor, in April 2014.
Youngsters who have benefited from the Ann Maguire Educational Fund, which was set up in 2014 in her memory, performed songs and poems at the ceremony.
Leeds City Council leader Coun Judith Blake said: “I’m sure that everyone here knows that Ann devoted more than 40 years – her entire career as a teacher – to encouraging, inspiring, supporting and improving the lives of generations of children and young people in Leeds.”
She added: “Tragically, Ann’s life was taken prematurely two-and-a-half years ago. The council wanted to pay tribute to Ann’s outstanding career, which has enriched the lives of thousands of citizens.
“We are very grateful to Ann’s family for sharing with us Ann’s deep affection for Roundhay Park, and we all agreed that renaming this centre in Ann’s name would be fitting and appropriate.”
Mrs Maguire’s sister Denise Courtney said: “We are now very privileged to have a permanent and lasting memorial that recognises Ann’s commitment and passion for educating young people in the city of Leeds.
“It will continue her legacy of supporting young children to achieve their full potential in the years to come.
“For everyone of us here who knew her personally, We now have a place where we can remember her and celebrate her life, reflect on the difference she made to each and every one of us and embrace in the joy and happiness she brought to each of us.”
Zoe Carty and Molly Rymer of Seacroft based Chapel FM, which runs activities for disadvantaged young people, sang and read poetry and singer Henry Etherington also performed.
Mrs Maguire’s husband Don said after the renaming ceremony: “The park fed Ann’s soul and refreshed her mind. It was a place of solace in difficult times.
“It was a place that allowed her to do with enthusiasm and energy the things that she loved to do and that was teaching and motivating children.
“For Leeds City Council to do Ann’s memory the honour of renaming the education centre in Roundhay Park is a fantastic tribute from the city and the people of Leeds.”
Mrs Maguire’s daughter Kerry said: “It was a beautiful event and lovely to hear everyone’s memories and recollections of my mother, both inside and outside of her career and how she used this park to inspire her teaching and her home life.”
Mrs Maguire’s sister sister Denise Courtney, said: “The doors of this education centre will be open to hundreds of young people for decades to come. Sadly, they will never have the privilege of meeting Ann, but by coming here and seeing this tremendous memorial they will learn about this remarkable teacher.”
A plaque was unveiled at the centre bearing a photoopgraph of Mrs Maguire and the message: “The aim of this centre is to continue Ann’s passion for enriching the lives of children through educaton, the arts, nature, and the outdoors in a place she loved: Roundhay Park. It was Ann’s firm belief that with the right support and encouragement all children can achieve their full potential and realise their hopes and dreams.”
The Ann Maguire Arts Educational Fund is managed by the Leeds Community Foundation. It provides bursaries and funding for the ‘enhancement and personal development of young people under 18 years old through music, drama, language and dance.’
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