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Tributes to Lowestoft teacher

PUBLISHED: 11:24 02 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:20 05 July 2010

PUPILS at a Lowestoft school have helped create a magical reminder of a beloved teacher who died last year.

Close friends and family gathered for the opening of a fairy-themed garden at Meadow Primary School yesterday to mark what would have been Melanie O' Neill's 38th birthday.

PUPILS at a Lowestoft school have helped create a magical reminder of a beloved teacher who died last year.

Close friends and family gathered for the opening of a fairy-themed garden at Meadow Primary School yesterday to mark what would have been Melanie O' Neill's 38th birthday.

The popular teacher, who was fascinated by fairies, sprinkled a little fairy dust of her own by having a hand in designing Melanie's Garden.

Friends and colleagues got their first glimpse of the garden yesterday, which includes a children's story corner complete with wooden seats, a newly-planted oak tree and a memorial plaque set between two fairy statues. Pupils from the reception and nursery classes painted colourful collages which now hang from the borders of the garden.

Later in the year youngsters from the school will carry out one of Miss O' Neill's wishes - to plant some of her favourite wild flowers, including poppies, mini-daffodils and bluebells.

He father Steve said he was pleased the garden would be enjoyed by so many children, saying: “Melanie didn't have a religion but she believed in fairies. She drew fairies on one of the walls in her house. This is fabulous.”

He added: “We didn't want to celebrate when she died, we decided we would rather celebrate on a nice day.”

Melanie, who was brought up in Kingston-upon-Thames in London and later moved to Beccles with her parents, trained as a teacher at the UEA. She started her career at Albert Pye Primary School in Beccles more than 10 years ago, before moving on to Fen Park Nursery, then to Meadow Primary School.

Colleagues described her as an “inspirational” teacher after she lost her battle against a rare form of cancer last year. After being given six months to live she carried on teaching for five years.

Her friend and colleague for seven years Debbie Smith said yesterday: “I remember her as vivacious, bright and bouncy. She would have loved the garden - this is Melanie.”

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