Tributes have been paid to inspirational teacher from Chedburgh who died following a skydiving accident at the weekend.
James Brooke, 26, died following a landing manoeuvre at Beccles Airfield on Saturday.
A Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), Mr Brooke taught the Meerkat class at Riverwalk School in Bury St Edmunds, a school for children with complex and profound learning needs.
Headteacher Jan Hatchell described him as ‘amazing’.
“I have been in special education for a very long time and you don’t come across many like James, she said.
“If anything that is what is so devastating. He had developed such amazing relationships with the young people – he invested himself in young people. “He had some very challenging needs to meet in his class and the children were making fantastic progress,
“The staff are devastated as he leaves such a gap.
“What you felt when you were with James was that he cared.
“The field of special education has lost somebody that would have made a real difference.”
She said Mr Brooke was raising money towards a new swimming pool at the school’s new Mayfield Road site, and that staff are determined to continue the project in his honour.
Colleague Kelly Worger said he was ‘a natural’ in the classroom.
“He was so cheerful, all the time. He always had a big smile on his face,” she said.
“He was great with all the kids.
“He was an all-round good guy.
”He was newly qualified teacher but you wouldn’t know it – he was a natural.”
Ms Worger said she is planning to get a tattoo of a meerkat in his memory while raising money for the swimming pool project.
A spokesman for the British Parachuting Association said Mr Brooke was performing a jump filming a tandem jump before performing a 270 degree turn on approach to landing.
He said: “As he was coming out of the turn he ran out of altitude and impacted quite heavily on the ground.
“After the impact he travelled about 20 metres and ended up on the ground. He was alive at the time but died later in hospital.”
The BPA said they are conducting an investigation into the circumstances of the accident which will be passed to the coroner in the event of an inquest.
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