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‘Brilliant’ Essex headteacher killed in ‘accident’ while on French holiday

Simon Gibbs, principal of New Rickstones Academy in Witham, Essex, died during a weekend trip to France  (New Rickstones Academy/Twitter)
Simon Gibbs, principal of New Rickstones Academy in Witham, Essex, died during a weekend trip to France (New Rickstones Academy/Twitter)

Tributes have been paid to a “brilliant headteacher” who has died while on a holiday in France with friends.

News of the sudden death of Simon Gibbs, principal of New Rickstones Academy in Witham, Essex, was shared with parents on Monday.

The headteacher died in an “accident” on Saturday evening, wrote Johanna Thompson, the academy’s regional education director, who described him as a “much-loved colleague”.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said it was supporting Mr Gibbs’ family while working with local authorities.

In her letter to parents, Ms Thompson wrote: “I am very sorry to be writing with the tragic news Simon Gibbs, our principal, died over the weekend.

“From what we understand there was an accident on Saturday evening whilst Simon was away for the weekend with some friends in France.

“This is obviously devastating news, and our immediate thoughts are with Simon’s family at this impossible time.”

She added: “Simon was a much-loved colleague and brilliant headteacher and we will miss him enormously.

“He will be remembered for his integrity and passion for teaching, as well as his dedication to the community of New Rickstones.”

The school is now planning a “right way” to remember Mr Gibbs and celebrate his commitment to the community.

Mr Gibbs took over a principal at the school in September 2021 having worked as assistant head and deputy head after joining in 2018.

He had previously been head of mathematics at Maltings Academy, also in Witham. He studied at Cardiff University, graduating with a masters degree in financial economics in 2004.

On Facebook, people in the community paid tribute to the teacher.

Jenna Jarvis wrote: “He was the person to go too and always got back to you straight away to help. I was only just speaking to him last week about helping one of my daughters. He had such a lovely kind heart and would help anyone.”

Sarah Smith wrote: “My girls are gutted and so are we. He was an amazing teacher and headteacher. He cared so much about his pupils. Sending hugs to his family and colleagues at this hard time.”