MORE than 200 people packed out a church to give an emotional send-off to an inspirational young teacher.
Debbie Rooke, 31, from Westcliff, a science teacher at the De La Salle School, Basildon, was fondly remembered yesterday at the St Helen’s Roman Catholic Church in Milton Road where she was a regular.
Refreshments and further tributes were paid at the nearby Avenue Baptist Church Hall later in the afternoon following her cremation at Southend Crematorium.
Miss Rooke passed away after her bicycle was hit by a car in South Raynham, Norfolk, last month.
She had been on a pilgrimage to Walsingham at the time.
Yesterday it was standing room only in the St Helen’s Church, Westcliff, with people crowding into every available space.
Her service of thanksgiving and celebration of life was led by Father Joseph Whisstock who told those assembled: “She did so much for other people that there are things her family didn’t even know about and have only just found out about as we discussed the arrangements for today.”
Colleagues from De La Salle Roman Catholic School gave bidding prayers in her memory.
Friend Carol Mountier delivered her eulogy in which she described some of Debbie’s charity work.
She described Miss Rooke’s life and how she had been dedicated to helping others – including through her charity fundraising work and membership of the St John’s Ambulance.
Miss Rooke is survived by her mother Joy, father David, as well as her brother Simon, 28. She lived with Simon in Prittlewell Chase, Westcliff.
Ms Mountier said: “Just over a year ago she and Simon moved into her grandfather’s former house in Westcliff.
“Not many brothers and sisters could have made this work, but they did.”
DEBBIE Rooke was remembered as a woman dedicated to helping others who was fluent in French (after a year spent working there) who touched the lives of everyone she knew.
Friend Carol Mountier delivered a touching eulogy to the teacher, while friends and family struggled to contain their emotions.
She said: “She didn’t think the long summer holiday was an excuse to relax.
“Each summer she would look for some challenge to fill the summer. One year she went to Uganda to help build a school.
“Another summer she did an 800-mile bike ride to raise money for charity. This summer she planned another charity bike ride with a friend she met on a pilgrimage.
“She made time for everyone. She didn’t seem to know the meaning of standing still. Her enthusiasm, her boundless energy and willingness to help absolutely anyone.
“She made a difference in a way that few of us could ever do. It wasn’t because of what she knew, but who she knew: Our Lord Jesus Christ.”