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Wife and niece describe "loving" teacher who collapsed and died in Chessington Community College
A family has paid tribute to a “loving man” and teacher who was everybody’s “best friend”.
Chessington Community College teacher Doctor Jim Gill died after suffering a cardiac arrest last week.
Students, staff and friends have been leaving flowers at the school gates in tribute.
Jo Rinks, his wife of eight years, said: “His first love was chemistry. I think he enjoyed the mystery and puzzle element. He had a mind that loved a challenge and loved to solve a puzzle.
“He loved cooking – that was his therapy. Everything he made came out in his own way.
“It came as a complete shock. He had no heart conditions – he was a healthy man. These were eight years of very happy times.
“He was my best friend – and that’s something that one may not get. It was a very special friendship and I was very honoured to be that close to him. I thank him for that.”
Dr Gill was born into a Hindu and Sikh family in Kenya and moved to England with his family when he was 11. He attended a school in Croydon where he lived thereafter.
He attended Loughborough University for his undergraduate degree and later studied for his doctorate in chemistry at Oxford University.
Dr Gill worked as a chemist for a number of years, also in Boots, before he took up teaching IT and chemistry later in life.
He had been a teacher and year 11 form tutor at the school in Chessington for two years.
He met his wife, who teaches English, when they both taught at St Andrews High School in Croydon together.
The couple enjoyed walking and listening to classical music and Van Morrison hits.
His niece Anita Bhardwaj, 28, from Croydon, said: “He was like a father to me. He would always build up your confidence.
"He was one of the greatest men you could ever meet. He was my best friend.
"He never raised his voice and he made you see things from other people’s perspectives – even if you didn’t want to.
"When something happened in my life he was the first person I would call. He has left a hole.
"When you meet the kids he taught – it’s like he taught them the same lessons he taught us. He treated them just like he treated his family."
He is also survived by two sisters, and a brother who lives in America.
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