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Teacher building cob round house during holidays in memory of former student

PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 August 2019 | UPDATED: 17:00 10 August 2019

Emma Whalley building a 'mud-hut' in the grounds of North Walsham High School. Picture: Richard Batson

Emma Whalley building a 'mud-hut' in the grounds of North Walsham High School. Picture: Richard Batson

Archant

A Norfolk teacher is giving up part of her summer holidays to build a cob round house in memory of a former student.

Beverley Bishop with her son Jess Fairweather on Cromer beach. Photo: Beverley BishopBeverley Bishop with her son Jess Fairweather on Cromer beach. Photo: Beverley Bishop

Emma Whalley, a science teacher at North Walsham High School, is creating the 'mud-hut' as a quiet space for students in the school grounds.

It comes after the suicide of young ex-pupil Jess Fairweather.

Mr Fairweather was found dead in his room at the University of East Anglia (UEA) last year.

Ms Whalley hopes to have the work completed by the end of the holidays so students can use it on their return.

She is being helped by student volunteers and fellow teacher Angela Warnes.

She said: "We started the work over the half-term holidays in June.

"I wanted it as a memorial to Jess and a quiet space for students to go to. It's very different being in a cob round house to a normal building. "The sound proofing muffles every other sound.

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"We're hoping that it can be used as a lunchtime club and, maybe, for a mindfulness club."

When it is completed, the circular building will be five metres in diameter and should be able to accommodate between 15 and 20 students.

It will have a living roof with wildflowers that students from other buildings can look down on.

Ms Whalley, who is trained in the cob building method, said it "uses mud and straw to create strong and sculptural structures".

The 46-year-old, from Trunch, added: "I'm close to the family and when Jess died, I thought that he just can't go, and there be nothing left of him.

"And he was not an isolated case, as there was another young man who died in Cromer.

"I thought this would make people stop and think and raise awareness. There's so little in the way of mental health facilities for young people to access."

Building materials were donated towards the work, following an appeal, and she was offered a digger and a man for the day.

She said that Jess's grandmother also sent her a card thanking her. "That meant so much to me," she added.

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