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Tributes to much loved member of York’s school community

Tributes have been paid to a respected and much loved member of York’s school community who has died of natural causes after collapsing at her school.

Karen Doyle, aged 56, was safeguarding and wellbeing team leader at Haxby Road Primary Academy and worked closely all schools in Ebor Academy Trust, especially Robert Wilkinson Primary Academy and more recently Lakeside Primary Academy. Karen provided support to children who for whatever reason sometimes struggled with school. A lot of her work also involved assisting families and partnering with other agencies for their benefit.

Karen was taken to York Hospital after collapsing, where she was cared for by hospital staff at the intensive care unit until she passed away peacefully on Wednesday morning.

Richard Ludlow, chief executive of Ebor Academy Trust, recorded a video message for staff across Ebor schools. In it he said: “It’s a tragic loss when someone dies in service and I pay tribute to Karen for her work over the past six years at Haxby Road and across the trust. Karen gave 100 per cent to everything she did. She was passionate about children and passionate about families. She cared for, and understood, the challenges that some families endure. She took a personal interest in every family she worked with – she got to know them, built relationships and sometimes she had to give hard messages, but she did it with love and care.”

Laura Woodward, head of school at Haxby Road Primary Academy, said: “Karen was caring and thoughtful, professional and also very personable. She was passionate about her work for children, families and colleagues. This is such a shock that we’re still coming to terms with and I’m grateful that we have such a strong school community where we can support each other and be sure we continue to put our children first.”

Gail Brown, senior executive headteacher with Ebor Academy Trust and hub lead for York, said: “Karen was highly respected across the city for her work. She was extremely skilled at bringing the various support agencies together for the benefit of children and families. This is such a sad time for the trust and we send the most sincere and heartfelt condolences to her family.”

Zoe Lightfoot, headteacher at Hempland Primary School and former head at Haxby Road said: “Karen was an inspiration. I feel honoured to have had the opportunity to work so closely with her over the last few years, both as a colleague and as a friend.

“Karen worked tirelessly to support the families in her care and was passionate about improving life chances for all children. Her work has done just that for so many families in York and more widely. I feel very lucky to have been able to count her as a dear friend and my life is just one of many that is so much richer for having known her.”

Maxine Squire, interim corporate director of children, education and communities at City of York Council, said: “It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of Karen Doyle, a member of the pastoral support staff at Ebor Academy Trust. Karen was very well respected by the children, parents, staff and governors, other headteachers and ourselves at City of York Council, and our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues during this very difficult time and our priority is to support them in any way we can.”

Messages of support and condolence have been sent from school leaders and headteachers across the city.

Karen’s career had always been committed to caring for others. She was a registered nurse and from 1992 to 2010 held various positions with children’s charity Barnardo’s working with vulnerable children and families. Her roles included children’s service manager, project worker, senior practictioner and therapeutic worker. During her time with the high profile charity Karen was presented with an award from the Duchess of Cornwall for her work with children and young people.