The Diocese of Bath and Wells

Christian headteacher buried in coffin covered in drawings by her pupils

Fri 18 Jan 2019
By Eno Adeogun

A Christian primary school headteacher who sent her pupils a letter from her death, has been buried in a coffin covered in their drawings.

Sue East died at a hospice aged 58 on 19th December last year following a short battle with cancer.

On the day she died, she wrote to students at St Andrew's Church School in Bath to tell them "she was 'going to die soon' and to thank them for their "joy and friendship".


Quoting a passage from C.S. Lewis' 1952 novel, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the mother-of-three wrote: "Never forget there is fairy dust to be found in every situation, no matter how difficult."

Almost 700 pupils, parents, ex-pupils and staff members attended her funeral at Bath Abbey on Thursday.

Mrs East's coffin was adorned with drawings of fairies, butterflies, love hearts, rainbows and 'fairy dust'.

St Andrews's church school


Her three children, John, Susannah and Josiah East, all read tributes to their mother, alongside readings from staff members and close friends.

Her daughter Susannah highlighted how her mother's faith that enabled her to not fear death.

"She said that death is not to be feared, for it is only coming home," Susannah said.

"She said how even in the most difficult situations, you find fairy dust."

The diocese of Bath and Wells has also paid tribute to Mrs East.

St Andrews's church school

David Williams, School Effectiveness Advisor at the diocese, who worked closely with Sue and the team at St Andrew's, said in a statement: "We were saddened to hear the news that Sue East has died. Sue was a well-loved headteacher who had a strong relationship with the diocese over many years.

"She served as headteacher at two of our church schools including St Andrew's, and has always been fully committed to the Christian values and ethos which underpin our church schools.

"Sue was a strong advocate of a creative curriculum which enabled every child to flourish and be the very best version of themselves they can be.

"She loved her role as headteacher, being thrilled and humbled by the positive influence she and her staff could make in the lives of children from such diverse backgrounds - over 20 different first languages were spoken by children at the school.

"We will miss her sense of fun, creativity and passion for working with children."

The funeral service was led by Rev Simon Holland who spoke about Mrs East's inspirational qualities.

He said: "It is good and hard to be here. We want to celebrate the joy and thank god for all that she has given to everyone here.

"She inspired us, loved us and challenged us. She was an amazing woman that sparkled in life.

"It is beautiful to see you all here."

He added: "In that letter that has gone out around the nation, people have been moved by the words she shared and the words she gave."

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