A FAMILY was left stunned after an “inspirational” headteacher died just a week after being diagnosed with cancer.
Joy Lowe, who was headteacher at Lynnfield Primary School, in Grosvenor Street, Hartlepool, for 20 years, died on October 17.
She had only been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma a week earlier, but deteriorated quickly due to complications.
Tributes have been paid to the respected mum who helped and supported hundreds of Hartlepool children and families and “was loved at the school for her warmth and concern for everyone”.
Her daughter Ruth Lowe, 22, is currently training to be a teacher as she wants to follow in the footsteps of her “kind and generous” mum.
Ruth, who is studying at Goldsmiths, which is part of the University of London, said: “It was so sudden. It was 14 days from diagnosis to her funeral.
“She has been an inspiration in more ways than I could possibly articulate, and will be hugely missed by so many people.
“She is why I want to go into teaching. It would be almost impossible for me to grow up seeing how she touched people’s lives and made a difference without wanting to follow in her footsteps.”
More than 270 people crowded into Stranton All Saints Church to say farewell to Joy, who lived in the Park Road area of town with retired husband Terry, 62, on Tuesday before a private cremation.
Ruth was told it was the biggest turnout the church had ever seen.
She said: “There are people whose lives she has influenced who we will never know about or meet, but we know there are so many out there.
“There have been teachers who left other schools and worked with my mum who have said she restored their passion for teaching.
“We have got cards from people who we don’t know saying things like ‘when I was a pupil Joy helped me when my father died’. She was such a good person.
“It’s a great comfort to know she has affected so many lives and as a family we would like to say thank you to everyone who has offered their support.”
Joy was a keen runner and had kept fit up until her diagnosis. She was also a big Sunderland AFC fan.
She had retired a year ago, and was hoping to go on a dream holiday to Peru.
Carl Richardson, chairman of governors at Lynnfield Primary School, said: “Joy was headteacher of Lynnfield Primary School for more than 20 years and in that time she helped and supported hundreds of children and families.
“She was loved at the school for her warmth and concern for everyone and was respected throughout the community and was instrumental in placing Lynnfield School at its heart.
“She was known across the town as a gentle, caring and kind headteacher and always had the children’s interests as the reason for everything she did.
“Our thoughts are with Joy’s family at this very sad time.”
Due to Joy’s commitment in helping youngsters, donations are being collected in her memory for the Barnardo’s children charity.
More than £1,000 has already been raised.
To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/joylowe