Sundial remembers Thetford teacher who helped brighten up school life

PUBLISHED: 06:48 30 April 2014 | UPDATED: 08:47 30 April 2014

The sundial is launched at Thetford Academy

The sundial is launched at Thetford Academy

A much-loved teacher who was murdered while on holiday in France 27 years ago will be remembered for all time after a sundial was refurbished in his memory.

Memories are still hard to bear

The new school term started at Rosemary Musker school in September 1986, but Mr Bellion failed to turn up.

Staff called Diss High School to see if his fiancée had returned, aware the couple had been away on a cycling holiday and may have been delayed in getting back.

However, when the Diss school reported that she was not back either, the Thetford staff called the police.

It was not until a month

after that call that the teachers’ bodies were discovered during the harvesting of maize.

The news of their deaths was broken to their parents by Rob Richley, the EDP’s chief reporter in Diss, and there then followed a high-profile missing persons investigation in which EDP reporters covered nearby villages

in “wanted” posters.

However, no progress was made and the case was closed in 1991, only to be re-opened in 2005 following a dramatic confession by a prisoner to his cellmate.

But, once again, no significant evidence was uncovered, other than the “purely intellectual” theory that the prisoner had done it and the case was closed.

The academy’s headteacher, Geoffrey Lloyd, said: “My reaction was obviously shock and horror, but in one sense it was a relief that we actually knew what had happened, but it was a terrible situation.

“It was a new, young school that had only be open two or three years and for a young teacher to be murdered in

that way, it was a terrible shock.”

Mr Bellion’s niece Tracey Goddard said the family

was devastated by the

deaths, adding she was concerned French police had not done everything they could to trace his killer.

She said: “We still don’t know the answer, we still have not got an answer.

“The French police have closed the case. We don’t feel they have done everything they could have done, we feel they could have done more.”

Paul Bellion, 29, a craft and design teacher at Rosemary Musker High School, and his 28-year-old fiancée Lorraine Glasby, a design technology teacher at Diss High School, were found in a maize field in Brittany in October 1986.

They had been shot in the back of the neck while on a month-long cycling holiday to France.

Geoffrey Lloyd, headteacher at Thetford Academy, was joined by Tracey Goddard and Jan Douglas, the niece and sister-in-law of Mr Bellion, for the unveiling.

Mr Lloyd, who first hired Mr Bellion, paid tribute to the teacher’s innovative skills and modern approach to teaching.

A sundial dedicated to teacher Paul Bellion who was murdered in France, was unveiled at Thetford Academy. Paul's sister in law and niece Janet Douglas and Tracey Goddard. A sundial dedicated to teacher Paul Bellion who was murdered in France, was unveiled at Thetford Academy. Paul's sister in law and niece Janet Douglas and Tracey Goddard.

He said: “We had a range of candidates and we interviewed some strong candidates, but one stood out – Paul Bellion. He was not your ‘chippy’ woodwork teacher, he had a modern approach that was totally innovative. He came to work with an excellent head of department, Martyn Strevens, and Paul turned out to be very good – a bright teacher with bright ideas.”

Mr Lloyd added the idea for the sundial memorial originated from work Mr Bellion had undertaken with students to design and build ways in which time could be measured.

However, the original sundial fell apart due to wear and tear, so the memorial launched yesterday, which had a plaque underneath with the words “Paul Bellion 1956-1986” was refurbished by Thetford-based Warren Services.

Mr Lloyd said of the murder: “It is still awful because of the links with many of us who were there at the time and even worse because the crime remains unsolved.”

Mrs Douglas said: “I think it is incredible that they have kept his memory alive and that they have re-established the sundial which he wanted in the first place. It is lovely that it has been dedicated in Paul’s name.”

Also present for the unveiling were current Thetford Academy pupil Connor Sillet, 14, whose father, Peter, was one of Mr Bellion’s pupils; David Napier, a former governor at the school; and Thetford mayor Stuart Wright.

Mr Napier said: “I am delighted at the re-launch of the sundial and, in particular, that the family are represented here today. Particular thanks must go to Warren Services for designing, manufacturing and installing the sundial.”

Mr Wright said: “It is nice to have it reinstated because I have been in Thetford all my life and I am aware of the tragedy that occurred.”

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