DEVASTATED pupils filed into a Leeds church to light candles in memory of an “amazing” teacher taken from them in unimaginable circumstances.
Generations of families silently gathered at Corpus Christi Catholic Church to pray and reflect on the shocking death of Spanish teacher and head of year Anne Maguire.
Hundreds of students, both past and present, gathered outside the school gates of Corpus Christi Catholic College throughout yesterday.
Tearful pupils laid dozens of bouquets of flowers by the gates, adorned with touching tributes to a woman described as ‘an incredible teacher’.
Nuns from the nearby convent comforted the mourners. Many of the pupils were in tears at the news which has rocked the country.
Deacon Sean Quigley, who was a former teacher at the Catholic college, paid tribute to Mrs Maguire, who had recently celebrated her 40th year at the school.
He said: “She was just a wonderful, caring teacher.
“She taught the parents of some of the current pupils.”
He said the community was shocked by the incident and added: “Faith is the heart of the school. I am sure that it will work through this but it is a trauma at the moment.”Floral tributes from pupils thanked Mrs Maguire for helping them through their exams.
And one touching note simply said: “You were a wonderful teacher and you will be sadly missed.”
Nichola Davies, 34, broke down as she tried to explain why she had driven 40 miles from Goole to pay her respects to the teacher. Mrs Davies, who left the school in 1996, said: “She was just amazing. She was such an incredible lady.
“It’s just so heartbreaking.”
Ella Meah, 19, was a former pupil and went to visit the school on Neville Road as soon as she heard what had happened.
She said: “She was a lovely teacher and was so kind and caring. I just wanted to come here and pay my respects and say one last goodbye. I just felt sick as soon as I heard the news. She was the most amazing teacher and the school should be proud of what a great teacher she was.”
The news has also rocked the teaching profession with the heads of many of the major union’s commenting.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, where Mrs Maguire was a member, said: “It is almost impossible to put into words the shock and distress that this tragic event has had, not only on the school community, but right across the teaching profession.
“Our thoughts are with Anne Maguire’s family and with the staff, pupils and whole college community at Corpus Christi Catholic College.
“Anne’s family and the school community need everyone’s support at this time while they come to terms with this devastating event.”
Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, added: “We are working with the school to support pupils and staff at this very upsetting time.
“We wish to reassure people that this was an isolated incident and there is no ongoing risk to pupils or staff at the school.”
The Prime Minister paid tribute to the teacher described by many as a “mother figure”. He said: “My thoughts are with the family of Anne Maguire, as well as the staff and pupils of Corpus Christi school.”