HUNDREDS of pupils bid a moving farewell to a much-loved member of staff at Cranford Community College on Friday, November 11.
Tracy Murphy, ethos manager at the secondary school, in Cranford High Street, died in her sleep on October 12 after suffering a brain haemorrhage, aged just 40.
More than 200 pupils past and present joined teachers and parents to share their memories of the ‘caring, sharp-witted’ mother-of-two at a memorial service in the school garden.
Pupils from all years paid tribute to Ms Murphy, reading poems and even performing a specially-written song.
At the end of the ceremony, the crowd released brightly coloured balloons with personal messages about the difference she had made to their lives. A fireworks display followed, before students lit candles and placed them along the path in her memory.
Ms Murphy’s children Stephen, 22, and Jess, 15, said they were touched by the tributes and the number of people who turned out to pay their respects.
Stephen said: “It’s lovely to see so many people here. It means so much to us. She was our mum but just as importantly she was a friend and a colleague to all of us as well.
“She loved you all, each and every one of you, and I just want to thank you for being a part of her life.”
Pupils and teachers recalled her sharp wit, her unnerving ability to extract the truth from students and how she always had time for everyone.
Headteacher Kevin Prunty said: “Whatever you do, make her proud. I think that’s going to be her lasting legacy.”
Year 12 manager Deborah Knights recalled how after new hand dryers were installed in the school toilets Ms Murphy had played a practical joke, telling her the lights only came on if your hands were still dirty.
“I tried one dryer after another. I’ve never washed my hands so much in such a short space of time,” she said.
“She was such a laugh yet she was also a fountain of knowledge.”