Loving tributes to teacher

HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to a father-of-two and teacher who has been found dead at his home.

Annie Davidson

HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to a father-of-two and former Essex teacher who has been found dead at his home.

Owain Richards, 42, who was found at his home in Ipswich, had suffered from depression and had a number of health issues.

The former deputy headteacher of Great Bentley and teacher at Burrsville Primary School in Clacton-on-Sea was described as an “inspirational and larger than life character”.

His widow, Angela Richards, of Mumford Road, West Bergholt, said his family and friends were “struggling” to come to terms with his death on Sunday.

The couple separated a year ago and Mr Richards was believed to have started a new relationship but recently split from his partner.

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Mrs Richards said she continued to love her husband who she had shared a “happy family life” with. The couple had two children, Charlotte, 12, and seven-year-old Oscar.

They also had twin daughters, Elizabeth and Lucy, but Lucy died before birth and Elizabeth, who was born prematurely at 24 weeks, died aged nine months.

Elizabeth and Lucy were born between Charlotte and Oscar.

Mrs Richards said his family and friends were struggling to come to terms with what had happened.

“Owain was an enthusiastic and energetic daddy and much-loved husband and we shared a happy family life.

“He was an inspiration to fellow staff and pupils and was 100 per cent dedicated as a headteacher, despite the stress that leading a school can bring.”

Mr Richards was a life-long follower of Chelsea football club and played for various local teams including Dedham, Boxted and Holbrook.

His widow added: “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.

“Owain was suffering from huge stress and the man he was had been lost to us for the last year or so.”

News of his tragic death was broken to staff at Great Bentley Primary School on Monday by headteacher Diana Cleaver.

Mr Richards worked at the primary school from 1999 until 2004 when he left to take on his first headship at Cliff Lane Primary School in Ipswich.

Mrs Cleaver said: “Owain was a larger than life character who certainly left his stamp on our school.

“He worked well with the children and was loved by everybody - he was always making us laugh.

“It is very, very sad and raw for us all at the moment.

“He had such a lot to give, he knew where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do so this is absolutely heartbreaking.

“There were quite a few tears here yesterday.”

Mrs Cleaver said the school would be thinking of a suitable way to commemorate Mr Richards and keep his memory alive but it was too early to say what they might do.

An inquest into Mr Richard's death has been opened and adjourned.

SHOCKED former pupils of Owain Richards have paid tribute to him on the social networking site Facebook.

A group, called Mr Richards (Owain) Was The Best Man Ever, has been set up where fond memories of the 42-year-old are being shared.

Garry Spinks wrote: “Mr Richards was the best teacher I ever had (burrsville), one of the biggest and most likeable personalities you could imagine. Such sad news.”

Holly Watson said: “It's so sad. And to think he was the one with all that energy and ....coolness.”

And Amber Keeble remembered: “Truly the best teacher I ever had, year 6, class of 99, at Burrsville was and brilliant, time has flown by.

“Such a kind and caring man and Chelsea FC mad!

“I remember Charlotte being born you were so proud to tell everyone. You will be missed by all rest in peace, my thoughts are with your family x”