North Norfolk school launch building project in memory of former pupil's 'tragic suicide'
PUBLISHED: 09:06 02 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:06 02 May 2019
A north Norfolk teacher has said she is overwhelmed by the offers of help she received with plans for a building project in tribute to a former student who took his own life.
Emma Whalley, a science teacher at North Walsham High School (NWHS), is planning to create a quiet space for students after the “tragic suicide” of young ex-pupil Jess Fairweather.
Mr Fairweather was found dead in his room at the University of East Anglia (UEA) last year.
An inquest found the 21-year-old law student had suffered with depression and taken his own life.
And Ms Whalley said she hoped the building would be a testament to his memory, as well as helping students who are struggling.
“The school and I were recently affected by the tragic suicide of a young ex-student,” she said.
“I would like to build a cob round house, as a quiet space for students, in his memory.
“It's something I always wanted to do and when Jess took his life I thought 'it can't keep happening'.
“I have a passionate and personal interest in mental health issues, particularly those facing our young people today.”
Ms Whalley, who is trained in the cob building method, said it “uses mud and straw to create strong and sculptural structures”.
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She added: “Cob is an incredibly therapeutic form of construction.
“The material is very tactile, forgiving and safe to use, so the students will help with the build.
“I hope parents, carers and the community also try their hand.
“There is an enormous sense of satisfaction knowing you have constructed something beautiful from waste with your bare hands.
“You're absorbed in what you're doing, and you're talking, but it's non-confrontational.”
She also hopes to construct a wall of jars for students to use to privately express their thoughts.
The 45-year-old, from Trunch, shared an appeal for people to help supply building materials online, prompting hundreds of messages.
She said: “I was so moved by the responses. I've even been offered a digger and a man for the day.”
The project, which should be completed by September, needs donations of sub soil, lime mortar, concrete, timber, windows, straw, water bowser, rubble, glass or perspex sheets and paving slabs.
Sponsors and volunteers are also welcome to contact Emma Whalley on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The free Samaritans helpline can be accessed by calling 116 123 from anywhere in the UK.