ONE recurring theme of the deluge of tributes paid to Ann Maguire in the weeks since her death has been her boundless passion for life.
Dedicated to her pupils, devoted to her family, enthusiastic about music, her verve was said to be infectious.
And even as her family and friends came together for her funeral yesterday, that vivacity was reflected in a service that was as much a celebration of a life lived well as it was a sorrowful farewell.
Don Maguire, Mrs Maguire’s widower, spoke of his wife’s lifelong commitment to teaching as he gave his own eulogy.
“Ann loved teaching,” he said. “A dream as a very young child, an ambition in teenage years, a fulfilling reality for 40 years.
“Spanish was her subject, the pace and rhythm of modern language teaching suited her so well.
“Being head of fifth form, a great passion, because this is where the full range of her personal qualities and abilities were fully exercised.
“But, in true humility, she always stressed that she learned so much from others.”
Mrs Maguire, 61, was stabbed to death on April 28 at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Halton, Leeds, where she had spent her entire career.
She had taught at the school for more than 40 years and was due to retire in September.
A 15-year-old male pupil is in custody charged with murder.
A small contingent from the school, including headteacher Steve Mort, attended yesterday’s Requiem Mass at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church on Harrogate Road in Moortown. Others filed in steadily during the hour before the noon service.
Mr Maguire, 62, daughters Emma and Kerry and nephews Daniel and Andrew, who were raised by the couple as sons, were brought to the church in a cortege of stretch black limousines.
They embraced other friends and family and were greeted by Monsignor John Wilson, who was leading the ceremony, at the doors of the church.
Around 300 mourners gathered inside the church with another 30 sitting in an overflow area.
An order of service carried several pictures of Mrs Maguire, including a black-and-white photograph of her beaming as a child, one of her locked in an embrace apparently at school and an image of her receiving Communion.
Perhaps most poignant of all was another black-and-white photograph of her and Mr Maguire as a young couple.
A message at the end of the booklet read: “Ann’s family would like to express their deep gratitude for everyone’s expressions of love, sympathy and support.”
During the service, which lasted for around 100 minutes, gifts were offered to symbolise Mrs Maguire’s life as the song Wind Beneath My Wings was played on the piano.
Prayers and hymns were followed by Communion.
Mrs Maguire’s coffin was then carried from the church covered in lilies and placed in a hearse alongside flowers spelling out the words ‘mummy’ and ‘sister’.
The glorious sunshine that greeted the family as they left the church was a reminder of their own tribute to Mrs Maguire, who they described as “our shining light”, shortly after her death.
“She brightened the world for so many of us,” they said.
The family could be seen holding one another as traffic came to a standstill outside the church for the departure of the funeral procession to a private burial shortly before 2pm.
Ann Maguire has become a national symbol for all that is good about teachers and the teaching profession.
Now a charitable fund has been set up to continue her legacy.
The Ann Maguire Educational Foundation is to provide bursaries and funding “for the enhancement and personal development of young people under 18 years old through music, drama, language and dance”.
By yesterday evening donations had already topped £2,300.
To donate visit www.justgiving.com/ann-maguire or send a cheque payable to ‘Leeds Community Foundation (Ann Maguire)’ to: Ann Maguire Educational Fund, Leeds Community Foundation, 51a St Paul’s Street, Leeds, LS1 2TE.