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Pupils' tributes to teacher Caroline Andrews, found dead at home in Benenden

A head teacher has paid tribute to a much-loved member of staff who was found dead in her village home.

Caroline Andrews died last Thursday in Benenden and her husband Stuart, 54, an Oxford graduate and former Bank of England aide, has been arrested on suspicion of killing his wife.

Benenden Primary School head teacher Gill Knox has spoken of Mrs Andrews’ qualities as a teacher. She said: “Caroline knew the children really well and they all loved her.

Some of the pictures drawn by pupils. Picture: Benenden C of E Primary School
Some of the pictures drawn by pupils. Picture: Benenden C of E Primary School

“She was skilled at her job and always flexible, working right across the school years, but she particularly enjoyed working with the little ones in reception.

“Staff are absolutely devastated about what has happened; they are shocked and stunned and they can’t believe that she has died in apparently terrible circumstances.”

On Monday the school held a special assembly for Mrs Andrews, 52, at Benenden Church, where the hymn Peace, Perfect Peace by Edward H. Bickersteth was sung.

A child from each year group was invited to light a candle in Mrs Andrews’ memory.

Mrs Knox said: “I talked to the children about Mrs Andrews and told them that she had died in very sad circumstances and we would not be seeing her again.

“I told them that every family has happy and sad days and that this was a very sad day for our school family.”

The head teacher said there were some tears but that staff had been able to deal with them.

Head teacher Gill Knox Benenden Primary School. Picture: Gary Browne
Head teacher Gill Knox Benenden Primary School. Picture: Gary Browne

Pupils have been asked to write down their memories of Mrs Andrews and draw pictures of her, which Mrs Knox hopes to collate into a book and perhaps hand over to her children.

The charming pictures drawn by the five to six-year-olds show a beaming and brightly-clothed Mrs Andrews, who radiates energy and a sense of fun.

One of the pictures shows a blazing sun in the sky highlighting the happy, bright way that child remembered her.

Head teacher Gill Knox said of the children’s drawings: “As you can see from their pictures, she was always beautifully dressed in bright colours which the children loved.”

Two of the supply teacher’s daughters Polly, 19, and her 14-year-old sister, were former pupils of the church school, which is tucked alongside the picturesque village green. Mrs Andrews also had two sons, Charles, 26 and Henry, 23.

Caroline Andrews at Benenden School
Caroline Andrews at Benenden School

Mrs Knox said that the youngest daughter had returned to her primary school after leaving and was seen at school fetes and inset days.

Mother-of-four Mrs Andrews, who had last worked at the primary on Friday, January 29, was a familiar figure in the village.

She lived just a five-minute walk from the school, in a £500,000 rented home just off The Street.

“Caroline was a keen jogger,” said Mrs Knox. “I often saw her jogging around the village green and I saw her on the Monday or Tuesday before she died and gave her a beep as I was driving past.

“She was very much a part of the village, as were the family who loved their dogs, cats and chickens and their country life.”

Police at the scene in Benenden
Police at the scene in Benenden

The head teacher, who has been in post for three years, said that Mrs Andrews had worked at the school for the last six years.

She commended her staff who put their own feelings aside last Friday when the impact of Mrs Andrews’ death was so raw.

They carried on with lessons, making sure everything was normal for the children and were professional at all times.

Mrs Knox has since emailed her team asking them to take time to be thankful to each other as the tragedy showed how precarious life can be.

She said: “I’m sure there are things that we all wished we’d said to Caroline about how much we appreciated her but didn’t get around to, so we should always remember to take the time to say thanks to each other.”

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