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Tributes to ‘inspirational and selfless’ former Bury St Edmunds headteacher Jim Cleaver




Tributes have been paid to an ‘inspirational and selfless’ former Bury St Edmunds headteacher who has died aged 50 after suffering a heart attack.

Jim Cleaver, who was headteacher at Westgate Community Primary School, passed away on Sunday having spent the day at home with his family.

The father of three had been headteacher at Wells Hall Primary School in Great Cornard for the last three years.

Jim Cleaver, former headteacher at Westgate Primary School in Bury St Edmunds
Jim Cleaver, former headteacher at Westgate Primary School in Bury St Edmunds

Tributes have poured in for Mr Cleaver, who had been at Westgate in Brooklands Close for 13 years with four as headteacher until 2017.

On social media, Chris Austin, who was chair of governors at Westgate when Mr Cleaver was headteacher, said: “I was amazed when going round the school with him that he knew the names of every pupil.

“He was an inspirational and professional teacher.”

Jim Cleaver in 2017 when he left Westgate Primary School. Picture by Mark Westley
Jim Cleaver in 2017 when he left Westgate Primary School. Picture by Mark Westley

Olive Quinn said: “He was my Year 4 form tutor in Westgate, one of the best teachers anyone could have asked for. How tragic.”

Nicola Crouch said: “Such a wonderful man. He taught my boys, always smiling, upbeat, fun and a real asset to Westgate School. Fantastic teacher and amazing family man.”

Robin Cutler, former chair of governors at Westgate who appointed Mr Cleaver as headteacher, said he was ‘adored by the pupils and hugely respected and liked by all his colleagues’.

When Mr Cleaver left Westgate in 2017, he told the Bury Free Press that he took over in challenging times and immediately oversaw a large building project and the development of provision for Years 5 and 6. Despite this, the school received a ‘good’ Ofsted.

Geoff Barton, former headteacher at King Edward VI School in Bury, said: “He was an absolute community headteacher.

“He knew the children but knew the parents very well and took a really clear view that a primary curriculum had to be broad and balanced.”

He said Mr Cleaver ‘was very good at promoting PE and sports’ and was the first in Bury St Edmunds to introduce the daily mile to encourage pupils and staff to run for a mile around the playground.

Wells Hall Primary is part of the Unity Schools Partnership.

A spokesman for the trust said: “We all knew how important Jim’s family was to him, and we wish his wife, three daughters, parents, brother and sister and his wider family our very best wishes at this time of such sadness.”

He added they were ‘touched’ by the number of tributes to Mr Cleaver and highlighted one which said: “He truly was a wonderful, selfless man who put everyone before himself.”


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