Belfast Telegraph

Headmaster in tribute to pupil Jack Stafford 'who put a smile on our faces' after sudden death

By Victoria Leonard

A 14-year-old Dungannon boy who died suddenly on Tuesday has been described as "quiet" with a "kind, thoughtful demeanour".

Jack Stafford, a year 10 pupil at the Royal School Dungannon, will be laid to rest this afternoon following a service in his home town.

Jack's funeral notice describes him as a "loving son" and a "dear brother".

His family have requested that donations in lieu of flowers be made to The Niamh Louise Foundation.

Paying tribute to the youngster, Royal School Dungannon principal Dr David Burnett expressed "great sadness" at Jack's "sudden and unexpected death".

He said: "Jack was a quiet boy who enjoyed working with computers and had a flair for creating outstanding multi-media presentations which entertained fellow pupils and teachers alike.

"He was a popular member of his form class with a close circle of friends who remember his sense of humour and kind, thoughtful demeanour.

"Indeed, as staff and pupils have been talking to one another and remembering Jack, it is clear that Jack's consideration of others was obvious to all who met him and also greatly appreciated by his peers.

"He was the boy who, in the words of one pupil, 'was kind and laughed a lot'; and for another, 'put a smile on our faces'.

"His quirky sense of humour stood out, with one pupil remembering the time when Jack changed everyone's computer screen backgrounds to show the Mario computer game character and another recalling his ability to hide the sixth formers' rugby ball and leave them scratching their heads."

Dr Burnett revealed that Jack had a keen interest in music, having recently acquired a guitar, and "spent many lunchtimes in the music studio working on samples for his latest presentation".

"One pupil commented that Jack's videos were 'so good and creative' and another simply stated that 'his music videos were the highlight of our classes', Dr Burnett added. "The impact of Jack's loss on the RSD community will be very great indeed."

Dr Burnett said that the school had implemented "a range of support services in school" in the wake of Jack's death.

"Any pupil, including pupils on study leave, who feels that he or she would like support at this difficult time should contact a member of staff," Dr Burnett said.

"In the days ahead we will find ways to remember Jack and his time with us in our community."

The headmaster also extended his thoughts and prayers to Jack's mother Heather, father Nigel and siblings Stuart, Suzanne, Michelle and Debbie. He said: "In his attitude and his treatment of others, Jack was the best of RSD.

"We will miss him."

Members of the community also posted online tributes to Jack, and extended their sympathies to his grieving family.

One wrote: "May God give you strength to meet the days ahead. Praying for you all, God bless."

Another added: "What a shock. Another gate has opened to Heaven. So very sorry of your heartbreaking news of your son."

Jack's funeral service will take place at 2pm today at Dungannon Baptist Church, followed by interment in Cottagequinn Cemetery.

Belfast Telegraph

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