Northern Ireland news

Co Tyrone schoolboy (14) remembered as someone who was 'kind and laughed a lot'

Royal School Dungannon has paid tribute to Year 10 pupil Jack Stafford. Picture from Royal School Dungannon

A 14-year-old boy who died suddenly has been remembered by his school community as a kind pupil who "put a smile on our faces".

The Royal School Dungannon (RSD) posted a moving tribute to Year 10 pupil Jack Stafford, whose funeral is to take place at Dungannon Baptist Church today.

Headmaster Dr David Burnett said it was "with great sadness that we learned of the news of the sudden and unexpected death" of the popular schoolboy on Tuesday.

In a death notice, his devastated parents Nigel and Heather and siblings Stuart, Suzanne, Michelle and Debbie said: "Your memory is our greatest treasure".

The family have asked for donations, in lieu of flowers, to the Niamh Louise Foundation, a Dungannon-based charity which raises awareness of suicide.

Jack began his studies at RSD in 2015 and was known for his "quirky sense of humour" and "kind, thoughtful demeanour".

Dr Burnett said it was clear Jack was "greatly appreciated by his peers".

"Jack was a quiet boy who enjoyed working with computers and had a flair for creating outstanding multimedia presentations which entertained fellow pupils and teachers alike," he said.

"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 head."

The school principal also described how Jack's interest in music saw him spend lunchtimes in the music studio making videos, regarded by his peers as 'the highlight of our classes'.

Dr Burnett said the "impact of Jack's loss on the RSD community will be very great indeed".

"We have a range of support services in school and these will continue in the days ahead," he added.

"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.

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

"In his attitude and his treatment of others, Jack was the best of RSD."

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