29th January 2010 at 00:00

Will Wilkinson, a geography teacher at Culloden Academy, near Inverness, died at the tragically young age of 34 in an avalanche on Ben Nevis on December 30.

He was born in Worksop and graduated in geography with history at Leeds University, before doing his teacher training at Sheffield University. As a teacher at Valley School in Worksop, he was regarded as inspirational and gave unstintingly of his time to help young people develop in his own sporting strengths of cricket and football.

He left Valley School in 2002 to travel the world, eventually coming to Scotland where he developed a passion for climbing and outdoor pursuits. He took advantage of his IT skills to detail his many adventures on his effervescent blog.

Based in Inverness and engaged to Becky Speight, Will felt he had found his true loves. With marriage in the offing, he sought financial security back in the classroom. After a period in the Gordon Schools, Huntly, he settled in for two years' teaching at Culloden Academy.

A fitting tribute to Will, from Culloden's head boy and girl, almost said it all about his attributes as a teacher: "His time with us at Culloden Academy was characterised by his helpfulness, his obvious enthusiasm for young people, and by his love and enthusiasm for teaching his subject. Indeed, he tried his hand at teaching whatever subject he covered (for a colleague's absence), a sure sign he wanted his pupils to do as well as possible. And though some felt his RE lessons broke new ground for him, and maybe the subject too, nevertheless, it was typical that he would have a go and do his very best for us. He showed initiative at every turn in spotting pupils' learning needs and setting about finding ways to help them. Heads of departments other than geography would ask specifically for Mr Wilkinson to be brought in to cover absence, knowing it wasn't his subject. They also knew just how reliable, friendly and hard-working for their pupils he would be.

"Mr Wilkinson's lessons would always include an extra dimension as he brought into each some research, personal experiences, or aspects of his travels and activities. We know it made the learning real for many young people. He will be missed in many ways."

A whole-school collection for Scottish Mountain Rescue has made a substantial donation for a crucial safe-passage service for the many who, like Will, have consuming passions for the mountains.

The last word on his behalf, at a celebration of his life, came from Becky: "Live life to the full and when you think of me, smile."

Stephen Dowds, headteacher, Culloden Academy

Will Wilkinson's blog:

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