Luton school's moving tribute to teacher who died after contracting Covid-19

A Luton school has paid tribute to a teacher who died after contracting Covid-19 with a heartfelt memorial service in his honour.

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 8:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 10:12 am
Yolanda Lewis and Cathy Barr, CEO of the Shared Learning Trust, at the memorial bench with several pupils taught by Mr Lewis

On Friday, May 28, staff and pupils at Stockwood Park Academy gathered to remember science teacher Miles Lewis, 54, who died in Bedford Hospital on Saturday, January 9.

Mr Lewis's wife Yolanda was in attendance as a memorial bench was unveiled in the school's garden of reflection.

Describing his loss as a "terrible shock", Mrs Lewis thanked teachers and students after a moving ceremony in which they shared their fondest memories of him.

One of his pupils, Emma, told the gathering: "He was the type of teacher who, no matter what was going on, he would always try his best to put the knowledge he'd learnt to the class.

"I remember when he had a bad knee, he was still trying to walk around and helping all the students he could without complaint.

"He was my form tutor and I did not have a problem seeing him any day of the week.

"He was kind, loyal and a great person to talk to when you needed something and I really miss him."

Colleague Emily Healey, the school's director of science, said: "One thing we all loved about Miles was the stories he'd come out with. He was a talker!

"Even if it was a really bad day, he always had a smile. I think that's what the students and most of all, the staff will miss.

"I remember when I first met him, he said, 'people are usually scared of me because I'm quite big'.

"I said, 'no... you're really a teddy bear' and he said, 'how did you figure that out so soon!'"

Mr Lewis was an avid rugby player and was heavily involved with Letchworth Garden City RFC for decades. The dad-of-two had previously taught at Samuel Whitbread Academy for over 20 years before joining Stockwood Park.

Head of school, Mumin Humayun, said he'd become good friends with Mr Lewis after they both started at the school in January of last year.

Mr Humayun said: "I received a text on January 4 saying he was ill and in hospital; and that it was Covid-related.

"Then, on the Saturday, we heard that he'd tragically passed away.

"It was very sudden and it had a profound impact because he was such a presence in our school community.

"First thing in the morning, he would welcome you and he'd always stop in the corridor for a chat, whether it be with a teacher or admin staff.

"He was a real source of comfort for so many people, in particular, some of the more vulnerable people he used to work with.

"He's left a massive void."

Stockwood Park Academy is part of the Shared Learning Trust, which sponsored the memorial bench. CEO Cathy Barr attended the ceremony and unveiled the bench after the speeches concluded.

> The following poem was written by one of Mr Lewis's pupils, and was read out at the memorial service by teacher Mutjabah Rathor:

Dear Mr Lewis

I'm very sad to say goodbye,

It wasn't the right time for you to fly high to the sky,

I'm sure many happy moments are coming your way,

Because roses are red and violets are blue,

You were a very caring and loving teacher,

So that's why I should say students love you,

We had ups and downs but we also had a bond,

You taught me what was right, even when I was wrong,

You put a smile on so many children, and you told me 'stay safe'

And in the blink of an eye, you flew off to a better place,

I'm sure your family will be happy,

Because of what you have done and the lives you have changed,

You taught me the triangle - the scientist's way

Fly high, rest in peace,

A mile for Miles.