Tributes paid to popular teaching assistant at Necton Primary School

A grieving school has paid tribute to a colourful teaching assistant who died of pneumonia aged 52.

Suzi Grimshaw worked at Necton Primary School, near Swaffham, for 11 years after first volunteering as a parent-helper and made a lasting impression on pupils there.

The mother-of-five was diagnosed with hereditary lung disease in 2004 and battled with a chest infection last month, dying in hospital on January 31 - her youngest daughter's 15th birthday.

Children at the school have created a touching memory wall for Mrs Grimshaw, who was known for her love of purple, music and crafts.

The display, featuring butterflies, hearts and stars, includes dozens of messages from youngsters, including former pupils who wanted to pay their respects.

A number remembered her laugh and the help she gave them in lessons, while others thanked her for running the school's jewellery club.

One message read: 'I miss you. I wish I could have said goodbye.' Another, by 10-year-old Stacie Nicholls said: 'You are a great lady, you used to make me laugh and smile.'

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Philip Horney, Mrs Grimshaw's partner of 27 years, made a special visit to see the memory wall last week.

'She would have really loved it. To see how much she cared for them and vice versa was really touching,' he said. 'She was my closest friend.'

A family funeral was held at Mintlyn Crematorium, in King's Lynn, on Monday and Mr Horney, 53, was able to find a purple coffin for his 'soul mate'.

Mrs Grimshaw, of Saham Toney, near Watton, also leaves five children, Cloe, 30 and Ryan 28, from a previous relationship and Gage, 23, Zane, 21 and Aone, 15.

She had five grandchildren and her sixth was due to arrive on Tuesday.

Headteacher Graham Steel said a special service with music had been held in school to give pupils a chance to say goodbye and remember 'all the lovely things she had left the children.'

'The children were devastated, particularly the older ones who she worked with most, but they have been very strong,' he said. 'They have been terrific at supporting each other.

'She had been unwell for some time, but it was still a shock. None of us knew this was going to happen, we expected her to come back once she had recovered from this bout.'

The display, in the sports hall, will eventually be taken down and made into a book for Mrs Grimshaw's family to keep.

'All the ideas have some from the children,' Mr Steel added. 'There are some lovely messages, it's beautiful.'

A celebration of Mrs Grimshaw's life will be held at the Old Bell, in Saham Toney, from 3pm on Sunday, March 6.