PUPILS and staff at an Oxfordshire school are mourning a “one-off” teacher who was killed in a car crash as she drove to a birthday party.
Julie Stodart-Cook, a business teacher and senior house parent at Kingham Hill School, near Chipping Norton, died on Saturday, following a crash at Alderton Garage, on the B4077 near Winchcombe, in Gloucestershire.
Headmaster Nick Seward said Mrs Stodart-Cook, who lived at the school, was known to friends and colleagues as “Stoddie”.
He said: “The community is devastated. Stoddie was a one-off, and a vibrant example to girls and boys at Kingham Hill across a huge range of academic and extra-curricular disciplines.
“She will be irreplaceable, and the school is offering every support to pupils affected by her loss, and will continue to do so.
“Our deepest condolences go to her husband Richard and family.
“They will be very much in our prayers in the coming weeks.”
A statement issued by the school added: “Only last week she had received a spontaneous ovation in chapel for an inspiring talk she gave to the pupils about determination and achieving life goals.
“She had single-handedly won the school centre of excellence status for its Young Enterprise programme, helped to coach senior rugby, and was a popular business teacher.
“Above all, though, she was a fabulous mother to her girls in Severn House, offering firm but loving care, and receiving back many alumni at the recent 20th anniversary celebrations of girls at Kingham Hill School.”
The statement added Mrs Stodart-Cook was going to a birthday party when she died.
The 43-year-old’s car, a yellow Vauxhall Corsa, careered off the road and hit cars on the petrol station forecourt at about noon on Saturday.
Mrs Stodart-Cook was declared dead at the scene.
A Gloucestershire police spokesman said that a 15-year-old boy, who worked at the garage, was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol with potentially life-threatening injuries, but was now expected to make a full recovery.
A woman in her 20s, thought to have been sitting in a car on the forecourt at the time, has been discharged from Gloucestershire Royal Hospital after treatment for injuries suffered in the incident.
Mrs Stodart-Cook had worked at Kingham Hill for 16 years and earlier this month helped to organise the reunion to welcome old girls back to the school to mark 20 years since the first female pupils were admitted.
Former pupils, friends and parents have left tributes online to the popular teacher.
One said: “Stoddie, you were our beautiful friend and this is a tragic loss. We will miss your energy, fun and love.”
Another wrote: “An inspiring, energetic young lady, a woman who a lot of girls in KHS look up to.”
A parent wrote: “God has taken one special lady. You were a great teacher, house parent and support to our children when they were at boarding school.
“I personally am grateful for the support and encouragement you gave our daughter in her teenage years – she needed a mother 24/7 and you certainly did that when I was not near.”