Heads bowed in silent reflection, a school community in mourning gathered to pay their respects to a much-loved teacher.
Dad-of-one Dave Pinder, 47, a popular PE teacher at Highfield Humanities College, died at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on Tuesday, despite paramedics’ attempts to save his life when he collapsed suddenly in a school corridor.
Amid the plethora of floral tributes and memorial artwork, teachers, parents and pupils past and present gathered outside his office yesterday at the school Mr Pinder loved so much.
And today Year 11 pupils at the school told of their sadness at the tragic events of Tuesday morning.
“He was bubbly and down to earth, and wouldn’t do anything to hurt anyone,” said Zach Selant, 16, from Kimberly Avenue, South Shore.
“He always helped us with our work.”
Hollie Lee, 16, from Kingston Avenue, South Shore, said: “He didn’t even mean to make you laugh half the time but he was just a humourous person.
“He was a very understanding person too, you could talk to him about anything.”
Mr Pinder, who lived in Marton, had worked for the school for more than 20 years. He was described by colleagues as fit and healthy, a sports fanatic who cycled to and from work every day.
He collapsed in a corridor at the Highfield Road school at around 11.30am on Tuesday. He was found by a colleague who called paramedics.
But he could not be saved. The cause of his death is still being investigated.
His parents, who live in Churchtown, visited the school to view the flowers and memorials yesterday morning as tributes continued to flood in.
A group on social networking site Facebook set up in his memory had more than 4,000 members within hours.
Writing on the group, Mr Pinder’s sister Alison Peet said: “The whole family are astounded by the level of support shown by everyone here.
“The flower tributes are very moving. We are so proud that he has made such a positive impact on so many young people over the years. A much loved father, son, brother, uncle, teacher and friend. He is very much missed.”
Pupils have also started an internet campaign to encourage their peers to wear their PE kit to school tomorrow in honour of Mr Pinder.
Ian Evans, headteacher at Highfield, said the school was supporting the idea.
He said: “Everybody, particularly the pupils, have been tremendous and shown such compassion.
“They’ve conducted themselves in an exemplary manner.
“It’s really humbling and what a fantastic tribute to such a well-liked person.”
Year 11 pupil Jamie Thomas, 16, from Prestbury Avenue, South Shore, said: “He always gave up his own time to help everyone in the school.”
Thomas James, 16, from Westby Avenue, South Shore, added: “He’d joke every single day.”
Mr Evans also said considerations were being made for a long-term memorial to Mr Pinder within the school.
He said: “We want to do something that will, over a long time, mark Dave’s contribution at the school and who he was a person, but it wouldn’t be right to make this decision at this stage.”
As well as being a popular teacher, Mr Pinder was a keen sportsman, in his youth and had represented Lancashire at both triple jump and high jump and remained heavily involved in athletics in Blackpool.
He also played rugby for Thornton Cleveleys when he was younger.
Charlie Garrett, who coaches at Blackpool Wyre and Fylde Athletic Club, was involved with him in organising the Blackpool Schools Athletics Championships.
Mr Garrett said: “He was very keen on athletics and he was a big help to the club, as well as a keen cyclist.
“He generally kept himself very fit so I was shocked to hear about it.”
The club will host the Lancashire county Club Championships at the Stanley Park track this weekend and will pay tribute to Mr Pinder during the meeting.
Adam Lloyd, chairman of Thornton Cleveleys Rugby Club, said: “Dave played for Thornton for many years, he was a good friend to all players and a valued member of the club.
“Even though it was some time since he stopped playing he still found time to every year to come and watch matches and keep in touch.
“All the players and members of Thornton-Cleveleys Rugby Club will be saddened by today’s news.”
Tributes have also flooded into the teacher on social networking sites.
One tribute on the Facebook group said: “Genuinely upset read of Mr Pinder’s death, he was a brilliant teacher.”
Another said: “Sad and shocking news, great teacher, great guy.”
On Twitter, Ryan Long said: “RIP Dave Pinder, devastating news - condolences to all his family - top teacher”
David Stevenson added: “Very saddened by the news about Dave Pinder great guy and someone that will be missed very much #RIPDave”
And a tribute from Dom Broughton read: “Dave Pinder was such a helpful guy. Got me into Athletics and was a great teacher.”
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