Tributes paid to tragic Westhill teacher

THE funeral was taking place today (Thursday) of Westhill Academy teacher Craig McAlpine, who had been missing for 40 days.

The 28-year-old's body was found on the beach near Newburgh at 7am on Friday, April 1. The history and modern studies teacher was discovered by a member of the public who alerted Grampian police.

Following a post mortem, police confirmed that no suspicious circumstances surrounded Mr McAlpine's death.

His funeral was being held at 2.15pm today at Aberdeen Crematorium's West Chapel in Hazelhead.

Mourners at the funeral were requested to donate money to help a former pupil buy a prosthetic limb.

Westhill Academy pupil Kelly Cumming, 16, had to have her leg amputated just below the shin after being diagnosed with cancer. She has had the all-clear and is trying to raise 20,000 for a cosmetic prosthesis.

Simultaneous silent tributes were held this week at the two academies at which Mr McAlpine taught - Westhill and Portlethen - and a permanent memorial in his memory could be created at Westhill.

The Dons are also expected to pay a floral tribute to the popular teacher. Mr McAlpine had been a supporter since he was a boy and had visited Pittodrie the day before he disappeared.

Westhill headteacher, Derek Thompson, said news of Craig's death had come as a huge shock to colleagues and pupils.

“Craig was an incredibly popular member of staff and a lot of pupils also wanted the opportunity to speak about him,” said Mr Thompson.

He said a sombre mood around the school was tinged with fond memories of their colleague, teacher, football coach and friend.

“It is a very difficult time for everyone at the school,” he said. “Naturally a number of senior members of staff and pupils were very upset when they were informed of the news.”

Craig's grieving parents Margaret and Stewart this week travelled from Hamilton to Aberdeen, to comfort his heartbroken girlfriend Jacqueline Evans.

They paid tribute to their son and expressed deep sorrow that their worst fears had been realised.

“It was a terrible, terrible day. We ache for him so much,” said Mr McAlpine. “But at least there's some sort of end to the ordeal of waiting and wondering.

“And the magnificent tributes to Craig and the kind of man he was have been a huge comfort to us.”

Mr McAlpine's girlfriend Jacqueline said coming to terms with her boyfriend's death was a new nightmare.

“I've not just lost a boyfriend, I've lost my best friend,” she said. “The one person I want to speak to - to get through this - is Craig, and he's not here.”

Mr McAlpine went missing on February 22, after a night out with a friend in Aberdeen.

He is survived by parents Margaret and Stewart, sister Gillian and girlfriend Jacqueline.