Mini Race for Life for teacher who lost battle with cancer

Miriana Phillips (known to all as 'M') , reception teacher at Westover Primary who died this summer from breast cancer
Miriana Phillips (known to all as 'M') , reception teacher at Westover Primary who died this summer from breast cancer
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A PRIMARY school staged its own Race for Life in memory of a popular reception teacher who lost her battle with breast cancer last month.

Every single pupil at Westover Primary in Copnor ran between four and 16 laps around their school in honour of Miriana Phillips – known as ‘M’ to her friends – who was described as ‘an outstanding teacher who cared passionately about the children’.

And all 310 youngsters, who were joined by staff and more than 100 parents, also planted daffodil bulbs as a symbolic reminder of Mrs Phillips’ commitment to outdoor learning.

Headteacher Annie Gunthorpe said: ‘The turnout has been incredible and a real testament to how many lives M touched in a positive way.

‘We’ve had pupils present and past, parents, relatives and even former staff members who made a contribution to our fundraiser in her memory.

‘M was held in such high esteem by everybody, and she was known for her gregarious nature and her smiling and happy disposition.

‘Even when she had periods of medication that made her poorly she came into school with a positive outlook – she always put the children first and she had all the time in the world for parents who needed help or advice.

‘I feel privileged and honoured to have had her with us and we all miss her so much. M will never be forgotten.’

Mrs Phillips was 49 when she passed away on August 16 at The Rowans Hospice in Purbrook, where she spent her last two weeks.

The mother-of-one was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago but was in remission when she joined Westover in 2002. It was her first teaching job.

However the illness returned three years ago – although she refused to let it get in the way of school and hardly took any time off work.

Kate English, a parent governor who took part in the race, said: ‘Mrs Phillips’ devotion and commitment to teaching was evident from the moment you met her.

‘She was unique and will be hugely missed.’

Amy Roberts, seven, added: ‘She was a great teacher and fabulous inspiration. I am sad she died. Mrs Phillips, I really really miss you.’

Three-quarters of the money raised from Race for Life will go to The Rowans, and the remainder to Cancer Research UK.

Mrs Phillips, of Anchorage Park, leaves behind her 21-year-old son Robert.