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School pals pen their personal tributes to tragic teen Sarah Booth

Heart-rending tributes from friends of a schoolgirl who died suddenly at the weekend have been pinned to a tree in the grounds of Wellington College grammar school in south Belfast.

Distraught teenagers penned emotional goodbyes around a photo of 15-year-old Sarah Booth.

Mystery surrounds the death of the young pupil after a post-mortem yesterday was unable to determine the cause of death. Tissue samples have been sent for examination but it may be three to six months before a conclusion can be reached.

Police said they are investigating the circumstances surrounding her death but they are not treating it as suspicious.

Bouquets of flowers arrived throughout yesterday at the school and were placed beside the tree shrine to the teenager.

One friend wrote: “School won’t be the same — we’ll miss you.” Another said: “You’ll never be forgotten by anyone here.”

Many of the tributes referred to her beautiful smile and painted a picture of a girl who was much loved.

Several of the tributes were from friends who had been at a sleepover in Ravenhill Court in the city on Saturday night when she fell ill. Sarah, who lived in nearby Broughton Gardens, off the Ravenhill Road, was rushed to the Ulster hospital in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Acting principal Dr Ian Drysdale said pupils and staff are “absolutely devastated” by Sarah’s death.

“She was a very good pupil from a lovely family,” he said. “Folk are absolutely devastated. She was a quiet girl but very well-liked.”

Dr Drysdale said a number of pupils who knew her well were too distressed to come into school yesterday.

“This is the first time in the history of the college that we have had a death in term time, so it is a steep learning curve for us,” he said.

A room was set aside for pupils to use to come to terms with their shock and grief, and counsellors have been provided to the school by the Belfast Education and Library Board.

The teenager was a Year 11 pupil who was due to take her GCSEs next year. Her older brother is doing exams this month and an older sister is a trainee teacher at Stranmillis College.

Her distraught father Robert described Sarah as “a little angel” who loved ballet and speech and drama.

Speaking at the door of their home, Robert said the family was in complete shock. “We don't know what happened, she was a very healthy young girl. She was our baby. She was very talented. She was a straight A student — a very, very clever girl.”

His voice broke and he choked back tears as he said: “In fact, she wanted to be a journalist. We can't believe it, we are so shocked.”

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