Pupils and staff mourn loss of teaching assistant
Teachers and pupils held a tearful school service for a much-loved teaching assistant who fell 330ft to her death during a walking holiday in the French Alps.
Felicity Ward, also known as Fizz, a teaching assistant for special needs pupils and a sports coach at St Peter's Church of England Junior School in Tavistock, West Devon, will be honoured at a funeral service tomorrow following her death during the summer holidays.
The 52-year-old is understood to have been walking on a narrow Alpine path when she slipped on loose stones and fell while hiking alone in the Valjouffrey valley in the Isere region of eastern France on August 14.
The school yesterday held a service in her memory during a special afternoon assembly ahead of the funeral service, when the school will close for the morning to allow staff to attend.
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Teachers and pupils were brought to tears yesterday as the Revd Dr Michael Brierley, priest in charge of Tavistock and Gulworthy and priest in charge at St Eustachius church in Tavistock, delivered an emotional memorial service, explaining to the children what had happened and telling stories of her life and sharing happy memories of Mrs Ward.
Children have been making paper flowers to weave into a wreath which will be taken to tomorrow's funeral service at Horrabridge Church in the village near Tavistock.
A letter sent to pupils' parents from headteacher Clare Wesson, said: "I am sure that the majority of you will have heard the sad news about the death of Mrs Ward this summer. The school will be marking her death and dealing with the loss in a number of ways this week."
She added: "We will also invite the children to write prayers for her and hang them on our Prayer Tree in the hall."
She said there would be a collection at the funeral, at 10am on Fridayin memory of Mrs Ward and to raise funds for the Mary Budding Trust charity or Mountain Rescue Fund.
She advised any parents who wished to make a donation to hand funds into the school office.
She added: "The majority of St Peter's staff wish to attend the funeral and so the junior school will be closed for the children until 12 noon."
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been providing consular assistance to Mrs Ward's family in the wake of the tragedy.