Headteacher pays tribute to 25-year-old 'rising star' Leeds teacher who died swimming in Kirkstall river

A headteacher has paid an emotional tribute to a Leeds teacher who died after swimming in the River Aire in Kirkstall.

By Daniel Sheridan
Monday, 1st June 2020, 4:45 pm

Lewis Howlett, aged 25, was a teacher at The Farnley Academy, in Leeds.

He died after going swimming in a stretch of the River Aire off Redcote Lane in Kirkstall, police confirmed.

Police and partner agencies are now warning of the dangers of swimming in open water following Lewis' tragic death.

Lewis Howlett

Shortly after 8.30pm on Saturday, friends who had been with Lewis contacted police to say he had gone missing while swimming.

Emergency services carried out a search of the area and his body was recovered from the water in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene and his family have been informed.

There were no suspicious circumstances and the Coroner’s Office has been notified.

Chris Stokes, Principal of The Farnley Academy, said Lewis was 'known and respected by all'.

Mr Stokes said: “Lewis’ ability to teach English was just astonishing. Having personally witnessed him teach on a number of occasions he sought every opportunity to bring the subject to life.

“Lewis promoted literacy and a love of reading to all and had a unique ability to engage even the most disengaged reader.

"Such was the quality of Lewis’ teaching, after just 12 months working in the academy, Lewis took on his first management responsibility as a ‘Teaching & Learning Leader’.

“Coupled with this, Lewis volunteered to lead the school in our efforts to promote Oracy through our Trust wide Voice21 programme.

“Whilst standing in Lewis’ classroom this morning, admiring his wall of thank you cards from students, it is so abundantly clear that Lewis had so much more to give and had he had the opportunity would have gone on to achieve great things for our school and the wider teaching profession.

“Our community is absolutely devastated by his untimely death.”

Detective Inspector James Entwistle, of Leeds District CID, said Lewis' death was 'an absolutely tragic loss'.

DI Entwistle added: “Our sympathies are very much with them, and with the school community, at what will be an understandably difficult time.

“Although we are still working to establish the full circumstances of this incident to assist the Coroner, his death does appear to starkly illustrate the dangers of swimming in open water.

“We hope that people will recognise the risks and the tragic consequences that can occur and avoid swimming in open water, no matter how tempting it might be in the hot weather.”

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