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Monday, 01 September 2014

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Tributes to former teacher killed in Seaton house fire

Tributes have been paid to a former Workington teacher who died in a house fire on Monday.

Maria Parker, 76, also known as Marie, was inside when flames engulfed her Church Road home at Seaton.

Mrs Parker, who had mobility problems, died at the scene despite firefighters’ attempts to rescue her.

Fire chiefs said they were treating the incident at about 4.30pm as an accidental fire.

It is believed the blaze spread from a coal fire in the living room.

It is understood that Mrs Parker taught at Wyndham School, Egremont, and became deputy headteacher at the former Overend School, Whitehaven, in the late 1970s.

In 1984 she moved to Stainburn School in Workington. She was an English teacher and a head of year, and sometimes taught music.

She retired from Stainburn School about 15 years ago.

She was also a teacher at the former Workington’s Newlands Girls’ School.

Peter Harlow, deputy headteacher at Stainburn School, who worked with her, said: “She was very down-to-earth and had lots of Cumbrian common sense.

“The kids had a lot of respect for her, as did the staff. She was very funny and had a keen sense of humour.

“She liked to provide lunch for staff at the end of term.

“She was very social and outgoing.”

Alison Phillips, co-ordinator of ICT and e-learning at Stainburn School, first met her in 1981 at an interview at Overend School. She then joined her at Stainburn in 1984.

She said: “She was always friendly and a very kind lady. She will be missed. She was a real Cumbrian.”

Chris McGrath, headteacher at Stainburn, said: “A lot of people are saddened to hear of her untimely demise and have very fond memories of her time at Stainburn.”

Neighbours spoke of their horror as they watched the fire.

They said smoke billowed out of the windows of Mrs Parker’s end-terrace home, which alerted a passer-by.

Four fire crews rushed to the scene.

Next-door neighbour Keith Ashbridge said that the smoke and heat were so fierce that he was unable to get inside.

He added: “It is a shame. She had trouble walking and mostly stayed in the house.”

Fire station manager Bruce Wilson said it is believed the fire was started accidentally from materials used to light a coal fire.

He said: “There was severe damage to the ground floor and heavy smoke damage upstairs.”

Mrs Parker developed mobility problems about eight years ago and in the last couple of years rarely left her home. Carers would call three times a day.

Mrs Parker’s husband Stan died around five years ago and the couple did not have children.

The pair were members of Workington Golf Club. Mr Parker was club captain in 1983.

A funeral service will be held at St Paul’s Church, Seaton, at 10.30am on Wednesday, followed by cremation at Distington Hall.

Donations can be made to Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Have your say

Such sad news. A lovely lady who taught me at Wyndham School. Many happy memories of her. A brilliant teacher. RIP. Suzanne XXX

Posted by Suzanne Kitto (nee Miller) on 9 March 2013 at 12:08

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