Dead teacher's wife: My heart is truly broken

THE grieving wife of a popular Suffolk headteacher found dead at home has told of her devastation.

THE grieving wife of a popular Suffolk headteacher found dead at home has told of her devastation.

Owain Richards had been at the helm of Cliff Lane Primary School in Ipswich since 2004 but was found dead at his home in Saturn Road, on the Blakenham Park development, in what is believed to have been a personal tragedy.

Mr Richards leaves two children, a daughter aged 12 and a son aged seven.

Today his wife, Angela, left a tribute to Mr Richards on social networking site Facebook.

She wrote: “This is Owain's wife, Angela. So that people know. He had been suffering huge stress. He left me and the children in Oct 08. I have loved Owain since the first day I saw him at University. We were together for 21 years, through many of life's ups and downs.

“And I have tried to stop loving him, as he started a new relationship. But my love for Owain is deep, and hasn't ever gone. My heart is truly broken that he was unhappy enough to do this.”

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He is the second Ipswich teacher to die suddenly in tragic personal circumstances in a fortnight - Westbourne Sports College English teacher Nathan Hall died on the railway line near Wherstead Road on January 21.

It is understood Mr Richards, 42, was found by police early on Sunday evening but could not be revived. The death is not being treated as suspicious.

He had been with members of the Holbrook Swan Football Club, for whom he was assistant manager, on Sunday morning just hours before he died.

Staff and pupils at the school were shocked at the news and they were visited by local vicar Rev Michael Tillett.

St Luke's Church, which is opposite the school in Cliff Lane, will be open this morning and tomorrow morning when a book of condolence can be signed.

A book of condolence is also being opened at the school.

Jo Leek, chair of governors at Cliff Lane Primary, said: “This is an extremely sad time for everyone connected with the school. Owain led the school with a great deal of pride, commitment and enthusiasm. His vibrant personality will be missed by staff, governors, parents and pupils.

“We are working with the county council to ensure the school community is supported at this difficult time. Our thoughts are with Owain's family at this distressing time.”

Graham Newman, councillor with responsibility for Children, Schools and Young People said: “Mr Richards was dedicated to providing the very best for everyone connected with Cliff Lane Primary School. Our condolences go out to all who knew him. Naturally the county council will do all it can to support the school in this adversity.”

Mr Richards' death sent shockwaves through the community of south east Ipswich which has Cliff Lane Primary at its heart.

Borough councillor George Debman had had difficulty in coming to terms with the news.

“I am absolutely stunned by this. He was very well liked by everyone in the community - he was a great headmaster for a school like Cliff Lane. It's always been a very good school but he developed the sporting side of it and really helped to enthuse the youngsters in sport - he made them much more competitive and they loved it.

“What he did was take Cliff Lane school in a whole new direction. It is so sad, so shocking.”

OWAIN Richards was a keen amateur footballer who had played for semi-professional teams Hillingdon Borough and Stanway Rovers, in Essex, before moving to Ipswich.

He continued to play for the Holbrook Swan team for whom he was also assistant manager - he held FA coaching badges. He had been with his team mates just hours before his death.

The club issued a statement describing their shock at the death of such a lively member.

“Owain joined the club in the summer, initially as a player, and he was quickly appointed as assistant manager thanks largely to his commitment to the team and general passion for football.

“A combative midfielder, he was never afraid to throw himself into a tackle, despite usually being the smallest player on the pitch.

“He will be remembered at the club for his unstinting determination, perpetual friendliness and all-round dedication.

“Owain will be greatly missed by everyone associated with Holbrook Swan Football Club.”

WHEN he was first appointed to Cliff Lane in September 2004, Owain Richards spoke of his determination that parents should become more involved in their children's education.

He was born and raised at Brighton on the south coast - and was a supporter of Brighton and Hove Albion FC, although his most loyal allegiances were to Chelsea.

He started teaching in London in 1991 before moving to Clacton four years later.

He then became deputy head of Great Bentley Primary School where he spent five years before taking over the reins at Cliff Lane.

On his appointment he said it was important that the children should get an all-round education from their earliest years.

He told The Evening Star: “I think it is important for children to be involved in some sort of activity outside school.

“I was involved in nine different sports at school and I think it builds up discipline, good health, and team spirit.”

SUNDAY'S tragedy came two weeks after the body of English teacher Nathan Hall was found on the railway line south of Ipswich station.

The popular English teacher was born in Canada, but became part of the community at Westbourne High School where he was a key member of staff.

Since his death there have been tributes to him from both sides of the Atlantic - and his pupils and fellow staff members at Westbourne have vowed never to forget the popular teacher.