IPSWICH/SEMER: Loving tributes paid to a truly inspirational mum and teacher

IPSWICH/SEMER: Poignant tributes have today been paid to an inspirational mother and teacher who was tragically snatched from her loving family after a short battle with cancer.

Toni Andrews, who taught at Gusford Primary School in Sheldrake Drive, Ipswich, for the past nine years, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in February, but the disease quickly spread and became very advanced.

After undergoing treatment at Ipswich Hospital, she asked to return home to spend her final weeks with her husband, Arin, and children, Hamish and Poppy.

She sadly lost her fight against the vicious disease on October 31 at the age of 38, leaving her family and the school’s community heartbroken.

Today, her husband Arin Andrews, of Semer, near Hadleigh, reflected on the 18 years of “great love” that he spent with his “inspirational” wife.

“She always wanted to be a teacher and a mother, she got her wishes but not for as long as she would have wanted.

“She was absolutely amazing throughout the whole of the past year – she remained strong, happy and positive.

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“Everyone that met her, loved her. She had a need to help people and was always there.

“I think that everyone will remember her for being an incredible teacher and an utterly amazing mum. She is an inspiration.”

Mrs Andrews died two days after her daughter Poppy turned seven, but Mr Andrews said she had been delighted to have spent the day together.

“There are so many happy memories that I will always cherish, especially how she was a natural mum – her children were her real joy.

“Our 18 years together were so full of love – a great love.”

More than 200 people – including family, friends and colleagues – attended her funeral, held at All Saints Church in Semer on Tuesday.

Colin Tapscott, headteacher at Gusford Primary School, said: “From time to time you come across special people who make a difference to all those around them.

“Toni Andrews is one of those people who as a teacher at Gusford made a difference to all the children in her class, made each and every one feel valued and as if they were the only one in the class. Staff had in Toni a valued friend who would be the first to offer support and give an encouraging word.

“She had a sense of fun and a wonderful laugh and twinkle in the eye.Toni will not be forgotten and a little bit of Toni has rubbed off on each of us.”