Brave Spalding teacher Deborah always thought of other people

Former St John the Baptist Primary School teacher Deborah Collett with husband Andrew.
Former St John the Baptist Primary School teacher Deborah Collett with husband Andrew.
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Former St John the Baptist Primary School teacher Deborah Collett has died aged 56 after losing her long battle with a rare form of cancer.

Cowbit resident Deborah suffered from angiosarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessels.

Husband Andrew said: “It is so unusual that many oncologists never get to see a case in their lifetime.”

Andrew said Deborah never complained, despite suffering ill health for more than 10 years.

Her first thoughts were always for family and friends, and she would ask how they were rather than “talk about her own terrible position”.

Deborah has donated her body to medical science, hoping doctors will gain a better understanding of the illness to benefit future patients. Andrew has created a JustGiving page to raise money for Sarcoma UK, which funds medical research.

Deborah taught in Eye and Peterborough before moving to St John’s in 2001 and tributes have come from people connected to her schools.

“She lived for teaching,” said Andrew. “She lit up. Children had a natural empathy with her and she had that rare thing, children identified with her and knew she was there for them, not for any other reason. It was her life.”

Sadly, Deborah had a heart attack in 2005, which forced her to quit teaching in Spalding for a time, and officially retired in 2008. She also battled breast cancer in 2010.

In a tragic twist, ex-teacher Andrew, known for his children’s books some years ago, had to give up his career due to a cancer diagnosis.

Born in Rainhill, Lancashire, Deborah trained to be a teacher at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, where she met Andrew 36 years ago.

The couple married five years later and had a son, Toby, now 21, who attended Spalding Grammar School and Spalding High School.

Deborah passed away in Peterborough City Hospital on Monday, August 7.

Deborah’s life will be celebrated at a private gathering for family and friends.

Andrew is collecting memories and photographs of Deborah and former pupils are invited to email them to him at cornishgirl55@gmail.com

•To donate to Sarcoma UK, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/andrew-collett2