HUNDREDS of people have gathered in Leeds Town Hall for a memorial service celebrating the life of Leeds teacher Ann Maguire, who was stabbed to death in her classroom.
The venue was packed with family, friends, colleagues, former pupils and civic dignitaries for a celebration of the hugely popular teacher’s life and career.
In scenes rarely witnessed in the city before, many more gathered outside to watch proceedings on a big screen.
The service opened with a procession to the hymn hymn Love Divine All Loves Excelling, before opening remarks by Reverend Monsignor John Wilson of the Catholic Diocese of Leeds. Leeds council leader Keith Wakefield and Coun Judith Blake then gave a civic tribute.
Coun Wakefield said: “The legacy that she will provide us will be compassion, care and commitment for the vulnerable.”
Coun Blake added: “Through her devotion and extraordinary talent, her legacy will live on in hearts and minds across the whole of the city.”
An order of service leaflet handed to those attending carried a smiling image of Mrs Maguire and details of a charity set up in her memory.
Members of the public were also at the event to honour the 61-year-old’s memory and her contribution to education, in a career spanning more than 40 years.
Mrs Maguire was just months away from retiring when she was killed in April in an incident which shocked the country.
At the time of her death Martin Dowling, chair of governors at the school, paid tribute to her saying: “Ann was a wonderful, dedicated teacher and will be remembered fondly by all of us.”
A special tribute video has been created in which people who knew her, share their memories and the part she had played in their lives.
The video was shown during the service and relayed live to the screens outside.
A minute’s silence was planned for around 12.30pm – with teachers and students across the city invited to take part.
Meanwhile, Mrs Maguire’s family have broken their silence on her death. Her husband Don, 62, said: “Ann was a very loving, dedicated wife and natural
mother and it was her natural nurturing qualities that I thank made her such a wonderful teacher.
“I remember the empty hollow sick feeling inside, and reading those messages made us comforted to know others were sharing in what we felt.”
In a BBC interview, Mrs Maguire’s youngest daughter Emma said: “We have our own memories of mummy, and those memories help us with our pain.
“Growing up she gave everything to me. She gave everything to all of us, but I think she gave that to all her pupils too, which is why she has touched them in such a profound way.”
The Ann Maguire Arts Education Fund has been set up to provide funding to enhance the personal development of under-18s through music, drama, language and dance. It has already raised more than £24,600 from its page at justgiving.com/ann-maguire.
A 16-year-old boy is due to appear before Leeds Crown Court in November charged in connection with Mrs Maguire’s death.