A very sad thing happened this week. A teacher in one of Leicester’s secondary schools, Lee Fairclough, died, suddenly at the age of 34, having had no apparent health problems.
We reported some of the tributes to him in the Leicester Mercury here, while Facebook groups here and here let his pupils past and present express what he meant to them. We’re carrying more tributes from those who knew him in the paper on Monday.
Lee leaves a wife, Alison, and an 11-month-old baby, Hayden.
Lee was only a few months older than me and lived just a couple of hundred yards away from me in the Clarendon Park area of Leicester.
It was a humbling experience to be able to speak to Lee’s family this week, particularly his sister Helen and their mother, who I met yesterday afternoon. They live near Liverpool where Lee grew up but travelled to Leicester yesterday. Their dignity, friendliness and obvious kindness at such a difficult time was inspiring.
I didn’t know Lee but, having spoken to his family and having read all the tributes, it’s easy to imagine the kind of man he was and the sort of teacher he was, at Riverside Business and Enterprise College.
In a world full of cynicism and assumptions that our schools are full of weary, unmotivated teachers and uncaring, unresponsive kids, the tributes left by Lee’s pupils show that nothing could be further from the truth.
Here’s just a short selection of them:
It was thanks to you I attended school the little bit I did, one of the only teachers to be able to keep me learning, thank you… R.I.P sir. Ben Slattery
Devastating news. Had the privilege of doing history a year into the course and he helped me get right on track. One of the few teachers you remember after a few years. Chris Barton
My face just dropped when I heard about this today. I remember when I showed Mr Fairclough around the school before he was going to teach there and he was making me laugh so much. He was such a cool teacher. Nazir Naz
R.I.P Mr Fairclough. Can’t believe you’re gone so soon. You were the best teacher ever. You treated us like we were your friends not just students … You made everyone laugh and always tried to get me out off trouble when I was in trouble.. Gunna miss you loads. Reanna Owen
You were the only teacher I behaved for! Tranmere are still pants though. Rhian Kenure
True legend gone. Back in the day when he taught me at South Wigston he was the best teacher, always going on about how one day you’d be able to see me in the street and take the mick when Tranmere were beating Liverpool every time they played them. You made everyone smile all the time. You will be missed, R.I.P sir never forgotten. Ricky Reina Johnson
You were my head of year years 6 and 7 at South Wigston. Also my school football manager in year 7 in South Wigston .. you made me captain .. you also gave me boy of the year award in years 6 AND 7 … you were a fantastic teacher and a great man … always had a smile on your face and you never will be forgotten. Thank you rest in peace sir. x Lewis Hill
Mr Fairclough you were such a good teacher and I was lucky enough to have you teach me for two years. You were amazing, always smiling and making people laugh. I can’t belive it. Such a good man with such a kind heart. You helped me through a lot. I will never forget the help you gave me R.I.P sir xxx Rebbecca Jarvis
Mr Fairclough! What can I say? You were an amazing teacher. Never forget you coming into my class every morning with a pack of babywipes to get my make-up off.. Rest in peace Sir. Kayleigh Leake