TRIBUTES have been paid to a ‘warm and caring’ pre-school assistant from Hartshorne who died tragically of meningitis.
Colette Freeman was taken ill suddenly and passed away at Queen’s Hospital on November 13.
Aged just 42, she leaves behind a daughter, Romany.
Susan Skinner, head teacher at Hartshorne Primary School, where Ms Freeman worked, said: “We are all very saddened by our loss. The children loved her and respected her and she’s going to leave a huge gap in our team.
“She was a familiar, warm and caring adult for the children. They knew they could trust her and she was always full of good, and caring and fun. She was just lovely.”
Ms Freeman, who lived in Hartshorne, started at the school in September 2000 as a pre-school assistant, and also took on a midday supervisor role in 2008.
Children at the school, in Main Street, have set up a memory wall in her honour, and have written dedications.
One pupil said: “I remember when Colette turned my frown upside down.”
Another read: “When I had a problem, you sorted it out.”
Mrs Skinner said the school was planning to hold a memorial service at St Peter’s Church, in Hartshorne, in the New Year, and a lasting memorial will be installed in school, though it is not yet known what it will be.
She added: “She was very, very popular. She was very quiet, thoughtful and supportive, and always very professional in carrying out her duties.
“Because she was a member of staff in the pre-school, some of the children have known her from the age of two to 11.
“She has been an integral part of their lives on five days of the week.”
Ms Freeman’s funeral is due to take place at 2.15pm tomorrow at Bretby Crematorium. Mourners are urged to wear bright colours.
Donations can be made at the service to Hartshorne Pre-School and Meningitis Research.
Hartshorne Primary School will be closed from noon tomorrow to allow staff to attend the service.