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Tributes follow death of ‘talented’ teacher Sue Berridge, who helped to save Coleridge Community College

A former head of drama at Coleridge Community College, Sue Berridge, has died at the age of 70.

Her partner of almost 30 years, Glenn Thwaites, described her as a “hugely talented” teacher and a “phenomenal mother”.

Sue Berridge Picture: Glenn Thwaites
Sue Berridge Picture: Glenn Thwaites

Sue was credited with helping to save Coleridge in 1997, when the school was threatened with closure because of falling pupil numbers.

In what her friend Lesley Cooper described as a “superhuman effort”, she acted as the college’s press officer to set up a campaign involving students, parents and the wider community to persuade the local education authority against wielding the axe.

Sue spent 19 years, from 1995 until her retirement in 2014, leading the drama teaching at Coleridge, producing and directing spectacular annual shows including My Fair Lady in 1998 and Like We Were Then – a production she co-wrote with parent Mike Levy to mark the college’s 60th anniversary.

In 1999, she also helped pupils produce a film of a mock Prime Minister’s Questions that won the Year 10 Motorola Parliamentary video competition in the region.

Sue was born in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, the daughter of telecommunications engineer Ken Bell and primary school teacher Margaret (nee Burton).

After attending the town’s King James grammar school, she went on to study drama and English at Homerton College, Cambridge, before beginning her teaching career at Longsands School in St Neots, which is now Longsands Academy. She was an accredited drama examiner between 1978 and 2010.

Sue married Graeme Berridge in 1975 and, after a few years’ break to raise their children, she returned part-time to teaching in 1985 at Melbourn Village College. Living in Sawston, she became chair of the governors of John Falkner Primary School in the village.

The couple separated and divorced in 1997 but a chance meeting in a cinema queue in 1995 led to her meeting Glenn.

Sue retired in 2014 and ran weekly quizzes at her local pub, joined a local walking group and volunteered as a steward. She recently qualified as a town guide in Clare, Suffolk.

Glenn said: “Sue was just special. She was a lifelong champion of the underdog, a hugely talented and professional teacher, an inspiration to colleagues and students alike and a wonderful and very loved partner to me. But above all she was a phenomenal mother to her children Sophi and Alexander.”

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