'Adored' Bury St Edmunds teacher killed in freak parachute accident
A 26-year-old Bury St Edmunds teacher who 'lived life to the full' has died after being involved in a parachuting accident at the weekend.
James Brooke, who was an experienced skydiver, was carrying out a landing manoeuvre when he experienced complications at Beccles Airfield just before 10am on Saturday.
Ambulance crews treated James at the scene before transferring him to Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, but he later died as a result of his injuries.
'James lived life to the full and he was always looking for the next challenge'
James, who lived with his girlfriend in Chedburgh, was a newly qualified teacher (NQT) and was in his first teaching post at Riverwalk School in Chevington Close, which caters to young people aged three to 19 who have severe, profound and complex learning needs.
He had been teaching the Key Stage 2 Meerkat class at the school for just over a year.
Jan Hatchell, headteacher, said: "James was fantastic. He was one of the most amazing NQTs we've ever had working with us and the children absolutely adored him.
"James lived life to the full and he was always looking for the next challenge. Apart from his girlfriend, skydiving and teaching were his life and he did both with the same passion and commitment."
James was also throwing his efforts into fundraising for a new swimming pool and rebound therapy facilities at the school's new site in Mayfield Road, which is due to open in September, and it is an initiative that staff intend to continue in his memory.
"He'll be greatly missed at every event but equally staff say we have to go ahead because he'd be cross if we didn't," said Mrs Hatchell.
"He had been working so hard to fundraise with all the staff and get everyone involved. He was somebody who pulled everyone together. Some people have the quality to do that and James was that person.
"It's a great loss and our staff are very distressed. They're coming into school for the children because that's what they do, but we know that everyone is grieving."
Mrs Hatchell added that the school is working closely with parents to ensure all children are supported in dealing with the news.
"It's difficult for children with learning difficulties because some of them don't understand and the ones who do are absolutely devastated. We are in contact with all parents and will support children on a totally individual basis," she said.
An investigation into James's death is being carried out by the British Parachute Association and a report will be prepared for the coroner.
James's parents have asked anyone who wishes to donate to his fundraising efforts to contact the school on 01284 764280.