The family of a well-respected and much-loved headteacher who lost her cancer battle have described her as a hard-working, fun and generous woman who fought her brain tumour with great strength and humour.
Sally Wood, 50, passed away at her Alnwick home on Saturday evening surrounded by her loved ones, after being diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme in November.
She leaves behind her husband of 29 years Richard, 51, as well as her four daughters, Ellen, 26, Beth, 24, Rowan, 21, and Caitlin, 19.
With a love for children and a passion for education, she taught in Northumberland schools for numerous years and was headteacher at Hugh Joicey C of E Aided First School at Ford.
Her funeral is being held next Thursday at St Michael and All Angels Church in Ford at 10.30am, with refreshments afterwards in the school hall.
HospiceCare North Northumberland, which has bases in Alnwick and Berwick, supported Sally and her family in the last four months of her life.
To give something back, her sons-in-law Luke Comer, 25, Luke Bray, 22, and her daughter’s boyfriend Harry Roberts, 21, will be tackling this year’s Great North Run in aid of the hospice.
In a show of just how loved Sally was, Hugh Joicey’s Year 4 teacher Kerrie Green has also chosen to run the half-marathon in support of the hospice, while eight-year-old pupil Poppy Rudge is walking the 84-mile length of Hadrian’s Wall for the same cause.
In a touching statement, the family said: “Sally was very generous, supportive, had a great sense of humour and loved children. She was incredibly resilient and doctors called her extraordinary.”
Much-loved headteacher was very passionate about helping children
Respected headteacher Sally Wood simply loved children and throughout her career, she devoted her life to their learning and development. Whether it was her four daughters or youngsters in her care at school, the 50-year-old was determined to do all she could.
“Her love has always been children and she just loved to see them progress and develop,” said husband Richard.
This passion for youth helped Sally to build a successful and esteemed career.
After graduating from Charlotte Mason College, in Ambleside, in 1986, she started her teaching career at Trenchard Primary School, in Gutersloh, Germany.
After a break to start a family, Sally took up teaching again at Trevisker Primary School, in Cornwall, before moving to Northumberland. In 1996, she took up a post at Longhoughton C of E First School.
In 2000, she moved to the Early Years’ Unit at Grange View First School, in Widdrington, reaching the post of senior manager, before moving back to Longhoughton to become deputy head in 2005.
Three years later, she was appointed to the headship at Hugh Joicey First School, in Ford. Earlier this year, Sally attended the school’s traditional May Day celebration and crowned May Queen Fiona McIntosh.
When she wasn’t teaching, Sally had many hobbies away from school life. She enjoyed reading and was always on her Kindle. A keen cook, her best dishes were a Sunday roast and South African stew.
A lover of the great outdoors, Sally loved to canoe and surf – her favourite spot being Sugar Sands on the Northumberland coast.
She was well-travelled and one of her most favourite trips was camping in Namibia. In February of this year, she realised a long-held dream by going to Iceland.
Sally was also known for her good humour and this never wavered, even after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour towards the end of last year.
Such was Sally’s strength, she amazed medics with just how long she managed to fight the aggressive tumour, which was picked up in a CT scan at hospital after an appointment at Alnwick’s Thompson Opticians showed she had a swollen optic nerve.
She had been referred to the opticians by a GP after suffering headaches.
Beth said: “The doctors called her extraordinary. The tumour was at an advanced stage when she found out about it, yet she managed to live for eight months after the diagnosis, which surpassed expectations.”
Sally passed away at her Alnwick home, surrounded by her family. It was the help and support of HospiceCare North Northumberland and its Hospice at Home service which allowed her to be cared for at home in her last few months.
Beth said: “The hospice was amazing and so supportive. Their help was a real blessing to mum and the family. Even when she was battling the tumour, we had lots of happy and fun moments, and the hospice was part of that.”
Her funeral is next Thursday and Sally requested that, rather than sending flowers, people should make donations to the hospice or Maggie’s Centre Newcastle.
The family has thanked everyone for their support and messages of condolence.
Lads set to tackle half-marathon
Sally was welcoming and always made us feel part of the family. Those are the touching words of her sons-in-law Luke Comer and Luke Bray, as well as her daughter’s boyfriend Harry Roberts.
And in September, the trio will be tackling the Great North Run in her memory and in aid of HospiceCare North Northumberland.
The lads said: “We want to raise money for this charity because the service was so helpful to Sally and us as a family. But it isn’t just about Sally, it is also about helping other people who are being supported by the hospice and those who will be supported by the hospice in the future. That is a big motivation.”
The lads will all be taking on the half-marathon for the first time. Looking ahead to the September 11 run, they said: “We are looking forward to celebrating Sally and doing something for her. She would find us running hilarious.”
To sponsor the lads, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Salz-Galz
Run Kerrie run, as teacher puts on her running shoes
It’s been two years since she ran properly, but Kerrie Green is now in training for this year’s Great North Run.
The Year 4 teacher at Hugh Joicey First School has been inspired to put her running shoes back on for Sally Wood and in aid of HospiceCare North Northumberland.
Representing the school, Kerrie said: “We all really wanted to raise some money for HospiceCare North Northumberland.
“They provided so much care and support for Sally and her family since she was diagnosed with a brain tumour last year and we want to give something back to this fantastic charity.
“Now it’s up to me to get training and get set for race day. But I’m so pleased to be running for such a great cause so close to all our hearts. Wish me luck, I think I’m going to need it!”
To sponsor Kerrie, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/Kerrie-Green1