On what would have been his 36th birthday, the family of holiday death teacher Wayne Miskimmin pay a moving tribute
Today should have been his 36th birthday.
Yesterday the family of an inspirational teacher who died from a brain aneurysm while on holiday paid tribute to their "amazing" and "fun-loving" son.
Wayne Miskimmin, originally from Donaghadee, was in Gran Canaria with friends at the end of August when he took ill as they celebrated the end of the summer holiday.
They were preparing to fly home the next day and were having a meal at their favourite restaurant on the Spanish island when Mr Miskimmin began to feel unwell.
He collapsed at the table and his heart stopped, but a doctor and nurse who were also in the restaurant revived him and he was rushed to hospital.
Doctors battled to save him, but he passed away a few hours later.
His family, mum Sylvia, dad Alister and brothers Darren and Adam, didn't get to say goodbye.
"He was so full of fun and always smiling. His motto was that the world is a hard enough place and you just should be happy," his mother said yesterday, "He was such an amazing young lad."
Today the family will remember him on what would have been his 36th birthday.
Mrs Miskimmin added: "It's so hard, especially for his brother because his brother shares his birthday. They were exactly a year apart. He used to tell Darren that he was his first baby present. It is so difficult. We are heartbroken. It is just so raw."
The former Bangor Grammar School pupil had been teaching in Wales for the last nine years
But as his pupils prepared to return to the classroom at the beginning of September, they were told the news that one of their favourite teachers was gone.
Mrs Miskimmin said that her son lived for his job: "He just loved spending time with the kids. He seemed to reach the children. Sometimes people laughed because his teaching methods were slightly different.
"He used a sponge hammer and he bounced it off their heads when they were doing something wrong. He wanted to make the learning fun.
"He told them that if they had any troubles they could come to him and his ears were always open. He did a thing called 'cake Fridays', because he found it helped them talk to him and open up."
He joined Llantwit Major Comprehensive School in south Wales in 2008 as a modern languages teacher. He was inspired to go into teaching after his travels around Europe took him to Italy, where he used drama and play to teach English to children there. His methods brought him great success, and just days before his death he was delighted to hear his GCSE French class had all achieved grades from A* to C.
He was so committed to the children that he opened the school on Sundays for extra GCSE revision classes in the build-up to the exams.
Mr and Mrs Miskimmin buried their son at home in Bangor just a week after he should have been returning to the job he loved.
"We were going through photographs for a montage for his funeral service and we couldn't find a photograph that he wasn't smiling in," she said.
They have been touched by the support from his friends across the world. Mrs Miskimmin said: "On the day of the funeral the headmaster and three of the teachers came over and friends that he'd met when he travelled all came over.
"Every one of them had a different story to tell."
The family have found some comfort in the memories that pals, pupils and colleagues have shared on a Facebook memorial page that was set up by his best friend.
Mrs Miskimmin said: "It is lovely to read all the messages. There were things that we didn't even know that Wayne had done.
"The things that people have done and said have been so nice."
Dr Vince Brown, headteacher at the school where he worked, said: "Mr Miskimmin was a very valued and very caring member of staff.
"He was a fun-loving character who was absolutely grounded in the way he went about his business."
A school spokeswoman added: "From the outset he immersed himself fully in school life, including accompanying pupils on a number of trips to France and Germany.
"In September 2012 he took on the role of head of Year 7, which he carried out with immense enthusiasm, ensuring all students were given every opportunity to succeed in their first year of secondary school.
"Wayne was a happy, cheerful, fun-loving person and particularly enjoyed making guest appearances in the school drama productions, as well as organising staff social events.
"The loss of such a valued member of staff is a huge blow to both staff and students and he will be greatly missed by us all."