Pupils sent home after shock death at Pendle Vale College

Michael Downing
Michael Downing

TRIBUTES have been paid to a well-known Nelson man who collapsed and died while working at Pendle Vale College.

Father-of-five Michael Downing (64), of Hollins Road, who was a parent governor at the school, had just started his midday supervisor job at the Oxford Road site when tragedy occurred.

The family man suffered a heart attack but could not be saved by paramedics who attended. The school was closed for the afternoon and pupils sent home.

Mr Downing, who was born in Birmingham but moved to Pendle as a youngster, has been described as “a loving man who worked hard to bring up his family”.

He leaves children Andrew (43), Wayne (39), Claire (19), Christopher (17) and Lauren (16).

Claire said: “He was a joker and always made people laugh. He was caring and would do anything for anybody and would always make time for people, especially his family.

“He had just started work when it happened and had been fine that day doing his normal routine.”

Mr Downing was a regular church goer to Christ Church, Nelson, and would always appear as the church’s Santa over Christmas.

On Wednesday, his funeral was held at the Carr Road church where his children read speeches and poems in front of the packed congregation.

The Rev. Ruth Jackson said: “Michael was a very loved and respected member of Christ Church. He brought a lot to the church with his warmth and sense of humour. He was a lovely man and will be missed.”

Mr Downing had started his new job at Pendle Vale College in September and “loved working there”, having formed close ties with the school because of his children’s attendance.

Previous to this he had worked for many years at Barrowford School in different capacities and also turned his hand to assistant teaching, window cleaning and milk delivery.

He enjoyed going camping in his spare time and was a member of Burnley League Kokos pool team.

Headteacher of Pendle Vale College Steve Wilson said: “This has obviously been a very distressing and tragic incident that has impacted on the whole college community and our thoughts go to Michael’s family and friends at this difficult time.

“As a parent, governor and member of staff, Michael made a huge contribution to the life of the college and will be much missed by everyone here.”

Donations are being received for Pendleside Hospice through Helliwell’s Funeral Services, 870898 and are also being collected for Mr Downing’s three youngest children to secure their future.