Former Yorkshire Teacher of the Year winner dies of coronavirus

A retired headteacher who volunteered as the manager of Selby's food bank has died after contracting coronavirus.

Mark Barnett

Mark Barnett was in his late 60s and was also the former head of a primary school in York.

He was married with children and grandchildren and has been described as a 'community champion' by volunteers at the food bank.

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A statement from Selby and District Food Bank read: "However you remember Mark, he was a huge character in so many people's lives. Big man, big voice, big presence; when Mark was about he meant business because he cared about and loved people.

"He had lots of energy to give and gave in abundance to so many causes, not least the Selby & District Food Bank where Mark (as manager) had been instrumental in helping shape the success of the food bank to ensure families and people in Selby received much-needed food parcels during desperate times of acute poverty.

"The hole Mark has left and sadness of those that he touched will remain in our memories. Mark, we will honour you with our mourning and remember a life full and worthy of celebration. Rest in peace."

Mark was head of Westfield Primary School in Acomb for 17 years until his retirement in 2008. He was once named Yorkshire Teacher of the Year and was congratulated in the House of Commons. He later worked as a consultant headteacher for City of York Council.

He was admitted to hospital in York with breathing difficulties and passed away on April 1 after contracting coronavirus.

His daughter Abby Knowles posted a tribute to her father on a York community Facebook page.

"Our lovely dad, Mark Barnett, passed away yesterday. He unfortunately died of the virus. He was so well cared-for at York Hospital and we can't thank the NHS staff enough.

"Dad knew lots of people from his time at Westfield Primary School, his time managing Selby Food Bank and his time being generally awesome."

Mark's death comes a week after Jonathan Rutter, who was in his late 50s and from Ripon, died after contracting coronavirus. He was the treasurer of Ripon Rugby Club and a former governor of Ripon Grammar School, and worked for HSBC in York.

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