By Sarah Beard 19/02 Updated: 19/02 21:15
A TEACHER, killed in a coach crash in France, has been described as 'Mr Alvechurch'.
Peter Rippington lost his life when while returning from a ski trip to Italy, the coach he and 29 pupils from Alvechurch Middle School were travelling in left the motorway and ended up in a ditch during the early hours of Sunday.
Throughout the day, staff, current and former pupils and villagers have been queueing up to pay tribute to the 59-year-old - who had taught Maths and Games at the school for more than 30 years and was due to retire at Easter.
Mike Martin, who grew up in Alvechurch with Mr Rippington, said: "I would say Peter was Mr Alvechurch, he was loved by everyone. It's a massive shock.
"I played football with him when I was a kid and he was a big part of the village. Pete was very much a family man, his kids were his life and he used to organise everything, all the after school activities. He was a very much an unselfish person."
Jackie Rhodes, whose nine-year-old twins were taught by Mr Rippington, added: "He was lovely, a really, really nice guy who was really funny. His sense of humour and madness will be missed. All the children really loved him."
Jacob Rhodes, nine, said: "He was a great teacher and you could talk to him about anything and he would just listen to all your problems and solve them, just like he did with maths."
William Johnson, also nine, called him the 'greatest maths teacher ever'.
Alvechurch resident Betty Stringer recalled the time Mr Rippington had rushed to her rescue when her home caught fire in the early 1960s.
"He was the one who came running across the fields and called the emergency services. He more or less rescued me. He is going to be really, really, really missed."
A tribute page has also been set-up on Facebook for current and former pupils to pay their respects to the man they affectionately referred to as 'Mr Rips'.
One posted: "R.I.P. to a truly amazing, teacher, friend, inspirational figure.
"Nothing was ever too much trouble, and it so sad to think that he died after doing something that he had done for many many years.
"He was a fabulous teacher for so many years but also a childhood friend of my dad and all our family. Its such a sad loss demonstrated by all the comments by everyone today. Alvechurch is in mourning."
Another posted: "I still can't get my head around it, you were so much more than a teacher to so many people, you truly touched the lives of anyone who knew you."
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