A “MUCH-LOVED” and “brilliant” headteacher from Essex has died during a trip abroad, a school has announced.

Simon Gibbs, the principal of New Rickstones Academy in Witham, died over the weekend in France.

In a letter sent home to parents and carers seen by the Braintree and Witham Times, regional education director for the Academies Enterprise Trust Johanna Thompson shared the news.

She said: “I am very sorry to be writing with the tragic news Simon Gibbs, our principal, died over the weekend.

“From what we understand there was an accident on Saturday evening whilst Simon was away for the weekend with some friends in France.

“This is obviously devastating news, and our immediate thoughts are with Simon’s family at this impossible time.”

The school said it has informed staff and wanted to make parents aware so they could inform their children.

It also said it will do “everything it can” to offer support.

The letter concluded by saying: “Simon was a much-loved colleague and brilliant headteacher and we will miss him enormously.

“He will be remembered for his integrity and passion for teaching, as well as his dedication to the community of New Rickstones.

“As we come through the next days and weeks, we will find the right way to remember him at New Rickstones and to celebrate his commitment to this community.”