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Warm tributes for young Lisburn mum and talented Wallace High teacher Jil Lockhart after death at just 33

By Cate McCurry

Published 26/05/2016

Jill Lockhart was described as having teaching in her DNA
Jill Lockhart was described as having teaching in her DNA

Heartfelt tributes have flooded in for a young mother-of-two and "outstanding" teacher who died following an illness.

Jill Lockhart, a popular and much-loved teacher at Wallace High School in Lisburn, passed away yesterday.

She leaves behind her husband Jonny and their children Zak and Zoe.

Mrs Lockhart, a "committed Christian" whose career was cut short by her illness, was described as having teaching in her DNA.

The mother, who was believed to be aged just 33, taught in the biology department of the school where she had worked for the past nine years.

She had suffered ovarian cancer.

The former Queen's University student also coached netball and badminton as well as assisting with extra-curricular sport and being involved with the student union.

Mrs Lockhart, who was a past pupil of Grosvenor Grammar, was described as "creative and diligent" in her profession.

In a tribute posted on Wallace High School website it said: "She quickly established herself as an outstanding young teacher with a professional assurance far beyond her years.

"Creative and diligent in her approach to teaching both biology and chemistry, Jill swiftly won the liking and respect of pupils and colleagues alike. Teaching was in Jill's DNA."

The statement added that a former colleague once described her as "glamorous and gorgeous".

"She was also witty and enjoyed a joke," he continued.

"Her beautiful hair was the envy of many, but her defining physical trait was undoubtedly the warmth of her smile, even though she had, in common with the majority of teachers, mastered the 'death stare'.

"As a teacher Jill was unfailingly diligent. Her pupils gained hugely from her innovative and imaginative teaching and she was always prepared to go the proverbial 'extra mile' to support or to stretch individuals she taught. As a colleague she was warm, generous, supportive and well organised contributing fully to the development of resources and schemes and responding positively to whatever new challenge emerged."

The statement said she was a "devoted" wife to Jonny and a loving mother to Zak and Zoe and part of a large group of young mothers in the school who enjoyed lunch time fun together.

"Conversations over the years covered such gruesome subjects as labour and smelly nappies coupled with engaging anecdotes about various staff offspring and the management of party bags.

"The camaraderie of the group was always evident and during Jill's illness her friends and colleagues rallied round to help, providing home-cooked meals and other practical support.

"It was characteristic of Jill that during her illness she made the effort to attend a colleague's hen do thus creating a cherished memory and she also provided the goodies for a Wallace favourite (the M&S break time) in appreciation of her colleagues' support."

It added that Mrs Lockhart's distinctive roles as teacher, wife and mother were unified by the "core role" of her life. "A committed Christian, Jill sought at all times to live a life consistent with the faith she professed. As her illness gained dominance and her body weakened, her faith shone ever brighter."

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