Tributes to inspirational teacher who was a friend to many

Sapphira Wright
Sapphira Wright

A highly respected and much loved Burnley teacher had died after a long battle with a rare form of cancer.

Mother-of-three Sapphira Wright, a music teacher at Shuttleworth College, died from adrenal cancer on August 9th aged just 46.

Warm tributes have flooded in from former pupils and colleagues for music-loving Sapphira, who lived in Hebden Bridge.

Her mother Laura Wright said: “Saph was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer in 2010. Ill health caused a major shift in Saph’s life and she was forced to give up her teaching career.

“Her strength and energy was much more limited but she was determined to keep going. She didn’t let illness stop her passion for young people and music. She voluntarily invested what time and energy she had in community initiatives.

“By the age of sixteen she was already giving violin and piano lessons to family and friends. She was a member of the Calderdale Youth Symphony orchestra for many years, travelling to Halifax Nova Scotia on an exchange with the youth orchestra there in 1987.

“Her love of music also manifested itself in a love of dance, and she attended creative dance classes run by Calderdale for many years.”

Sapphira went on to study jazz and popular music at Leeds College of Music for three years before taking a PGCE.

After a spell teaching in Bradford, Sapphira arrived at Shuttleworth College where she became an inspirational teacher, not only getting young people interested in music, but also, in the words of many of them taught them to be me.'"

She was nominated for the Best Teacher in Britain award and also won a community award in Burnley which involved having a giant sized photograph of herself projected onto an old mill chimney.

Her mother added: "Apart from her children and grandchild her great love was her garden and she became an accomplished gardener, with a particular interest in growing organic fruit and vegetables. This became another passion, with a quote from Audrey Hepburn giving her enormous comfort in coming to terms with her illness 'To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.'

"Saph was a friend to many. She will be remembered for her vibrancy and cheerfulness, her sense of humour and her generosity, as well as her devotion to her three kids."

Sapphira leaves children Janthina (26), Zebedee (19), Elias (18) and grandson Ezra (8) as well as mother Laura, sisters Isolde and Evania and grandmother Sheila.

Her funeral will be held on Thursday in Hebden Bridge.