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Shock over sudden death of teacher from St Columb's College, Derry

Derry school teacher Patricia Hughes who had died suddenly
 
Seamus McKinney

A TEACHER at a leading Catholic grammar who died suddenly has been described as an inspiration who "enriched the lives of countless young people".

There has been widespread shock in Derry following the death of popular English teacher Patricia Hughes who taught at St Columb's College.

The boys' grammar on the Buncrana Road has remained closed since Wednesday following news of the death.

The school also cancelled its annual sports day which was scheduled to take place on Thursday.

However, A level and GCSE exams went ahead as normal.

A member of a well-known family, Miss Hughes (55) followed her father Paddy, into St Columb’s as an English teacher where she worked for the past 24 years.

The Education Authority’s critical incident team has been providing counselling and other support for staff and students.

The St Columb’s teacher had been living at nearby Westland Terrace where she was a close neighbour of deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness.

On Thursday night he paid tribute to his neighbour and friend.”

“As a highly respected educator, Patricia was someone who inspired and enriched the lives of countless young people throughout this city and beyond.

"She will be desperately missed and my thoughts are with her family and friend and all the pupils and staff at St Columb’s college where she made such a massive contribution over many years.”

SDLP politician Mark H Durkan said Miss Hughes’ death had sent shockwaves throughout Derry.

The former Stormont environment minister, who attended St Columb’s, said: “Patricia educated and inspired thousands with her love of literature and love of life.”

Principal, Finbar Madden said Miss Hughes worked closely with every member of the school’s community as a senior teacher and subject leader.

Mr Madden extended sympathy to Miss Hughes’ family, including her sister, Mary and brothers, Tom and John.

“Due to her gentle and caring nature, Patricia’s loss will also be keenly felt by so many of our pupils, young men to whom she gave everything over the past 24 years,” he said.

Past and present pupils at St Columb’s also took to social media to offer condolences and pay tribute.

Former pupil, Christopher Coyle said: “I was in her first A level English class at St Columb’s. A genuinely great teacher who gained instant respect from her pupils. I always looked forward to her lessons.”

Miss Hughes will be buried on Saturday following Requiem Mass at St Eugene’s Cathedral at 10am where she had served as a reader for a number of years.

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