Teacher builds cob round house in student's memory

Teacher Emma Whalley has built a cob house at North Walsham School in memory of a student who took h

Teacher Emma Whalley has built a cob house at North Walsham School in memory of a student who took his life. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Age-old methods and recycled materials have been used to create a cob hut at a north Norfolk school, dedicated to the memory of a former pupil who took his own life. 

Teacher Emma Whalley said she was delighted with how the building, made of mud, straw and water, had turned out, after working on it during weekends and holidays over the past three years. 

Teacher Emma Whalley has built a cob house at North Walsham School in memory of a student who took h

Teacher Emma Whalley has built a cob house at North Walsham School in memory of a student who took his life. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

The science teacher at North Walsham High School said it was a place students could go to 'take a break' and leave their troubles behind.  

She was prompted to build it after the death of Jess Fairweather, who died in 2019 aged 20 after years of struggling with depression. 

The 48-year-old from Trunch said: "I don't want to have to go to any more funerals of young people. They're so full of potential and the world is in front of them.  

Teacher Emma Whalley has built a cob house at North Walsham School in memory of a student who took h

Teacher Emma Whalley has built a cob house at North Walsham School in memory of a student who took his life. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Teacher Emma Whalley has built a cob house at North Walsham School in memory of a student who took h

Teacher Emma Whalley has built a cob house at North Walsham School in memory of a student who took his life. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"I hope that when they do start using the building the way it is intended it does make an impact, even if it is just to realise that people do care about them."

Inside the hut are benches and cushions, and jars set into the wall. 

Ms Whalley said: "The idea is that whatever the pupils are feeling, they can go into the building, have some quiet time, write down their thoughts on a piece of paper, but it into a jar and walk away and leave it. 

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"Hopefully by doing that physical thing it will help them to leave that behind emotionally as well."

Emma Whalley. Picture: supplied by Richard Batson

Emma Whalley during the construction of the cob hut at North Walsham High School. - Credit: Supplied by Richard Batson

Emma Whalley, a science teacher at North Walsham High School, is planning to build a cob round hous

Emma Whalley and helpers when they were building the cob round house at North Walsham High School. - Credit: Emma Whalley

Teacher Emma Whalley has built a cob house at North Walsham School in memory of a student who took h

Teacher Emma Whalley has built a cob house at North Walsham School in memory of a student who took his life. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Ms Whalley trained to do cob building more than a decade ago, and students helped her with the building in the early stages of the project. 

She said: "It's a really environmentally friendly way to build.

"Historically it was a community thing - you would have people come from around the village to all chip in and help to build someone's house.

Beverley Bishop with her son Jess Fairweather on Cromer beach, where they had summer barbeques. Phot

File photo of Jess Fairweather and his mum Beverley Bishop on Cromer beach. - Credit: Beverley Bishop

"The ridge beam is a telegraph pole that BT wanted to get rid of. Everything used would have ended up in a dump except for the joists in the ceiling."  

Ms Whalley said the hut would be officially opened at Easter.