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‘She had a heart of gold’ - School pays tribute to mother who died off Norfolk coast

PUBLISHED: 21:16 11 August 2020 | UPDATED: 21:16 11 August 2020

Danielle Chilvers, 37, of Swaffham, who died Sunday after she went into the sea at Waxham to save her 14-year-old son who got into difficulty in a kayak. Picture: PA/BRITTANY WOODMAN

Danielle Chilvers, 37, of Swaffham, who died Sunday after she went into the sea at Waxham to save her 14-year-old son who got into difficulty in a kayak. Picture: PA/BRITTANY WOODMAN

PA/BRITTANY WOODMAN

The school where a mother-of-two who died off the Norfolk coast worked has promised her legacy will live on.

Mark Woodhouse, principal of Nicholas Hamond Academy in Swaffham. Picture: ArchantMark Woodhouse, principal of Nicholas Hamond Academy in Swaffham. Picture: Archant

Danielle Chilvers, 37, known as Dani, from Swaffham, died after trying to rescue her 14-year-old son and his friend who had got into difficulty in a kayak.

The family were at the beach at Waxham, between Happisburgh and Hemsby, when the tragedy unfolded on Sunday, August 9.

Miss Chilvers, who also has a 17-year-old son, got caught in a suspected riptide, and although rescuers brought her to shore she was pronounced dead in hospital.

The two boys managed to get to safety.

Miss Chilvers worked as a student support leader for Key Stage 4 students at the Nicholas Hamond Academy in Swaffham and was described as an integral member of the pastoral team by principal Mark Woodhouse.

Mr Woodhouse said: “We will all miss Dani very much and will spend many difficult moments grieving her loss but the impact of her work will live on as a legacy for many of our young people.

“She was a much-loved member of our team at the Nicholas Hamond Academy and she will be missed greatly by staff, parents and most of all the students she worked with in the academy.

“Dani had worked at the academy for a number of years in a variety of roles and was well known, well regarded and well respected both within the academy and in the wider community.

“As one student summarised, ‘She had a heart of gold and was an amazing woman and teacher. The academy will feel the loss of such a kind person’.

“The welfare and well-being of her students were at the heart of everything Dani did in the academy and she would do anything to ensure that the students she worked with had every opportunity to be successful. She worked closely with not just our students but also with many of our families providing the sort of support that made a life changing difference for them.”

MORE: Family tributes to loving mother who died rescuing son

He added: “Dani was determined and a passionate advocate for the students in her care. She wanted them not only to fulfil their potential but exceed it, always striving for the very best for them.

“Students knew that she would always be there to listen and it is this compassion that we will all desperately miss.

“Dani afforded the same level of support for her colleagues and many people will miss not only the positivity she brought but also the support and empathy she had for everyone.

“We know that this is an incredibly challenging time for students and staff and we are putting measures in place to support all our staff and students appropriately both now and when we return officially in September.

“This will be especially important next week during the Year 11 Results Day as this was a year group Dani had worked particularly closely with over the last couple of years.

“Whilst we will desperately miss Dani at the academy our thoughts go to her family and her sons who were her world and for whom she would do anything. It was this quality that made Dani stand out.”

Norfolk police said the death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious.

Superintendent Jason Broome, of Norfolk Constabulary, said: “While inquiries are continuing to establish the exact circumstances leading up to the woman’s death, this is a tragic situation and our condolences are with her family.”


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