Headteachers’ tributes to River Wear tragedy girls Chloe and Tonibeth

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HEADTEACHERS have spoken about the popular and much-valued youngsters who lost their lives in the Wear at Washington.

Tony Cunningham, headteacher at Oxclose Academy, where Chloe Fowler, 14, of Shiney Row, was a pupil, said: “Everyone at Oxclose Community Academy is devastated by the terrible events at Fatfield.

TRAGIC PAIR ... Chloe Fowler, 14, and Tonibeth Purvis, 15

TRAGIC PAIR ... Chloe Fowler, 14, and Tonibeth Purvis, 15

“Chloe was a popular pupil who had many friends in school.

“She was determined to succeed in everything she set her mind to and she will be sadly missed by staff and pupils alike.

“She was a valued member of our school community.”

He added: “At this very sad time, we wish to send our thoughts and prayers to her parents, family and many friends at the tragic loss of her young life.”

Tonibeth Purvis, 15, of Barmston, who also died, was a former pupil at Oxclose Community Academy, having attended the school in Year 7 before moving to Washington School.

Executive headteacher John Hallworth said: “The thoughts and prayers of all at Washington School are with Tonibeth’s parents, grandparents, wider family and friends at this tragic time of loss.

“Tonibeth joined Washington School this year.

“She had settled into school life here very well and had already made a good and close group of friends.

“Her teachers and pastoral staff speak of a quiet and caring young lady who had a most promising future, and who was looking forward to achieving a broad suite of qualifications.

“Tonibeth was a lovely girl and a valued member of our school community.

“There is a very palpable sense of loss at school this morning.”

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson said: “I am sure the thoughts of everyone in our community is with the families at this very difficult time. I would like to express our deepest sympathy at their loss.”

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said: “This is an absolutely heartbreaking incident, and a tragic reminder of the danger of swimming in our rivers and lakes, which lots of young people are tempted to do in the hot weather.

“Losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare, and my thoughts go out to the girls’ families and friends at what will be an incredibly difficult time.”