A “superstar” school worker who changed the lives of thousands of children has died.
Tributes have flooded in following the death of Chris Tracey, 49, who worked at Penair School and Truro College.
Former students returned from all over the country to attend the funeral of Mr Tracey, a married father of two, and a balloon release was held in his memory at Penair.
Mr Tracey’s wife, Debbie, a teacher in Falmouth, said she had lost her “soulmate”.
She said: “He helped thousands of young people find their direction. He never judged, he loved young people.”
Mr Tracey originally trained as a teacher and a careers adviser. He worked at Penair for eight years in careers advice and pastoral support before moving to Truro College in September 2011.
As an example of the lengths to which Mr Tracey would go to help people, his wife described how he bought a pair of shoes for a Penair pupil whose family could not afford them.
“He would have helped anybody, and did. He always went above and beyond,” said Mrs Tracey.
“He will be remembered as a very loving, optimistic, genuine husband, father and friend.”
Mr Tracey was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March and died on November 10 at Mount Edgcumbe Hospice.
His wife said staff at the Royal Cornwall Hospital had been fantastic and she and her family could not thank Mount Edgcumbe enough for the care which allowed Mr Tracey to die with dignity.
She paid tribute to her husband’s courage as he faced the ravages of debilitating illness.
“Whatever life he had he wanted to live it to the full,” she said. “I asked him if he was scared of dying and he said he was just worried about me.”
Throughout his illness Mr Tracey continued to pursue his passions of music, horse racing and Wolverhampton Wanderers football team.
Mrs Tracey said his death was “like losing your right arm.”
She added: “Suddenly that person you depended on, your rock, isn’t there any more.”
In a book of condolence, put together by staff and pupils at Truro College, Jenny Rielly wrote: “Without your help and guidance I would have quit college and carried on life without knowing who I wanted to be or what I could accomplish.”
Suzy Ellis wrote: “Chris, you are a superstar who made every person’s life you touched better.”
David Walrond, principal of Truro College, said: “Chris made a huge and lasting difference in very many lives, often with those students who, for one reason and another, weren’t having a straightforward route through school and college.
“There are so many young people now successfully following careers and higher levels of study who will identify his help and support as being absolutely crucial to their success.”
Cheryl Mewton, director of studies at Truro College, said: “The staff and students of the college loved working with Chris because of his passion for education and his ability to enthuse you and overcome any problem.
“Chris will be missed by all but he will always be remembered as someone who cared tremendously about the success of young people and who worked tirelessly to help them achieve their ambitions. His sense of humour and energy will always be remembered.”
A spokesman for Penair School said Mr Tracey was loved by all who knew him, adding: “He was willing to help everybody, particularly in a crisis, and always went the extra mile, talking with pupils and students at lunch time and listening with sympathy and understanding as required.
“His sudden loss has come as a devastating shock to the whole school. He will be deeply and sorely missed by all of us who knew him and had the good fortune to work and play with him.”