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Bishop's Stortford High School death: Retired former long-serving staff member Ian Wickens dies in exam classroom

A former teacher died suddenly in class minutes before an exam was due to start at the school he had been associated with for almost half a century.

Members of staff at The Bishop's Stortford High School tried in vain to save the life of Ian Wickens, a married father and grandfather in his 70s who suffered a suspected cardiac arrest.

Paramedics and police were called to the London Road secondary on Monday (Dec 14) just before 2pm.

Ian Wickens joined The Bishop's Stortford High School in 1972
Ian Wickens joined The Bishop's Stortford High School in 1972

Mr Wickens, a retired former member of staff at the school, was working as an exam invigilator when he collapsed while preparing the classroom for a Year 11 mock GCSE. No students were with him at the time.

It is the second tragedy to befall the family in two-and-a-half years. His son David, a former head boy at TBSHS who went to university at Cambridge, died suddenly in his late 30s.

Mr Wickens, who lived in Stortford with his wife Angela, first joined the school in 1972 as a teacher. He later worked as bursar and examinations officer before retiring in 2008. After travelling extensively, he returned to the school in 2016 as an exam invigilator.

In a letter to parents and carers on Tuesday (Dec 15), headteacher Dale Reeve said: "I write to inform you that yesterday we suffered the very sad loss of a long-serving and valued member of our school community, Mr Ian Wickens.

"He collapsed whilst in school and, despite the valiant efforts of several members of staff, sadly it was not possible to revive him.

"This has obviously come as a huge shock to the staff and governors, many of whom had known Ian for a very long time.

"Many staff... are acutely aware of just how dedicated he was to the school – absolutely Black & Gold.

"I knew him as a warm, generous man who had clearly contributed so much to TBSHS over such a long time; we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

"Ian will be sorely missed and our deepest sympathies are with his family. They will remain in our thoughts and prayers at this most difficult of times."

Mr Reeve added that ambulance crews, who were quickly on the scene, were full of appreciation for the students' calmness and the efforts of staff, praising them for their rapid response.

A spokeswoman for Hertfordshire police said that they were called by the ambulance service to reports that a man was in cardiac arrest at the school.

She said: "The man, aged in his 70s, sadly passed away at the scene. His death is not being treated as suspicious and a file has been prepared for the coroner."

The East of England Ambulance Service sent two ambulances, an ambulance officer vehicle and the East Anglian air ambulance, which landed in the school playing fields.

Mr Wickens also leaves a daughter, Sally.

David Wickens died suddenly in Dubai in June 2018. He was head boy at TBSHS in 1998 and went to Selwyn College, Cambridge, to read history. He worked as an international manager with HSBC bank, a job that took him to postings around the world, including Moscow, Hong Kong, Delhi, New York and finally Dubai. He left a wife and two children.

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