MORE than 100 people turned out to pay their respects to a much-loved former Christchurch school teacher who has died after a battle with illness.

Wife, mother and popular teacher Vanessa King taught English at the Grange School in Christchurch for 20 years and has been described as a “great colleague and friend” who “thrived” in her work teaching thousands of young people.

Following a long and brave battle with illness, Vanessa died at the Macmillan Hospice in Christchurch on February 9. She was 62 years old.

Her funeral at the Christchurch Baptist Church on Tuesday, February 22, was attended by more than 100 people and was watched by at least 20 more around the world. Friends and colleagues from places like Denmark, Australia and India all attended via live stream to pay their respects.

Speaking to the Echo about his late wife, David King said: “Vanessa had a wonderful but all too short life. She thrived at her job as an English teacher at The Grange and she lived for her family. I am very grateful to have spent 30 years of my life as her husband.

Bournemouth Echo: Former The Grange school teacher Vanessa King, who died aged 62Former The Grange school teacher Vanessa King, who died aged 62

“She touched an awful lot of people in all different walks of life and even all these years later she still means a lot to them. But family was number one for her, followed very closely by teaching.”

Vanessa taught at The Grange from 1982 to 2002 before going on to spend three years at Avonbourne School in Bournemouth until she retired due to ill health.

Bristol-born Vanessa had wonderful memories of coming to Bournemouth on family holidays every year throughout her childhood and, having always wanted to become a teacher, jumped at the chance to take a job at The Grange as soon as she was qualified.

Vanessa met her husband David at what was then known as the Marine Training Centre (now the Hengistbury Head Outdoor Education Centre). They went on to enjoy many years of windsurfing, kayaking and boating in and around Christchurch Harbour with their son Dominic.

After retirement, Vanessa maintained her love of English and the children she taught. David added: “She wrote poetry during her retirement and was often greeted in a happy manner by her former students who would say ‘Hi miss’ as she wandered around Christchurch, which she enjoyed as she was keen to know how they were getting on.”

Bournemouth Echo: Former The Grange school teacher Vanessa King, who died aged 62Former The Grange school teacher Vanessa King, who died aged 62

Retired teacher Helen Gibaud met Vanessa as a young teacher at The Grange and the two remained friends for 39 years. Helen said: “Vanessa was a really good teacher, always there for the kids and nothing was too much trouble for her.

“We were both young teachers at The Grange when I started in 1983. I was there for 11 years and she was there for 20 but we kept our friendship going.

“She was just a great colleague and friend to have. She absolutely loved literature and was determined to pass that on to the students that she taught. She was very patient with them and never got cross or angry.

“She always had a smile on her face, even though she had ill health, and was very caring. There’s a real sadness because she was still young and had so many years taken away from her. But we were always amazed how positive she was when we came to see her – I’m not sure where that strength came from. She was brilliant.”

Vanessa King is survived by her husband David, their 28-year-old son Dominic, her mother Pam and sister Jacky.