Belfast Telegraph

Pupils' guard of honour at funeral for maths teacher Joan Campbell

By Brett Campbell

Tributes have been paid to a passionate teacher and mother-of-two who has been laid to rest one week after she passed away in her Co Down home.

The sudden death of Lisburn mum-of-two Joan Campbell (47) has devastated staff and pupils at Strangford College, where she taught for nearly 20 years.

Heartbroken sixth form students from the integrated Carrowdore school formed a guard of honour for their beloved maths teacher at Roselawn Cemetery on Saturday morning.

Friends and pupils then gathered in the Stormont Hotel to celebrate the life of Mrs Campbell, who loved baking, and enjoyed her favourite chutneys and cheeses.

Her husband John and sons Maurice and Sean joined colleagues in the hotel to share precious memories.

Fellow maths teacher Sarah McAuley (29), who described her friend and colleague as "one of the most respected teachers" in the school, said the event was a fitting tribute to her petite friend with a big appetite.

"It was just a lovely time for friends to talk and share stories about Joan," she said.

"There were lots of photographs on display which captivated everyone and brought back so many memories.

"Joan really loved food and was always baking, she brought so much life to the staff room that way, but she loved people and had a real presence when she walked into the room."

Mrs McAuley said Joan's deep love for all the children at the school was reciprocated.

"Joan was such a hard worker and she knew exactly how to get the best results from her pupils," she said.

"She was passionate about maths and passionate about teaching, there wasn't one person in the school whose life wasn't touched by Joan.

"There is a real sadness in the school, we are all absolutely heartbroken."

Another colleague described Joan as a "brilliant teacher, a funny and passionate woman and someone who cared deeply about her pupils and friends".

School principal Clare Foster described her "esteemed colleague and friend" as a "much loved, respected and valued member" of staff.

"Over the coming weeks, the school community will make plans to honour the memory of Joan Campbell and the many years of excellent service she has given to the school," she wrote on the school's Facebook page.

"For now, our priority is to respond sensitively and thoughtfully to Joan's family and to the staff and students of the school."

Distressed pupils, who were notified of the tragic news last Monday morning, have been offered support following the loss of a second faculty member in the same academic year.

The school community was left devastated after teaching assistant Sherry Campbell (29) choked to death in the kitchen of her family home in Orlock last September.

Her father Shannon assumed she had fallen asleep on the sofa when he noticed the lights were still on in their family home in the early hours of September 7, before being confronted by the tragic scene.

Belfast Telegraph

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