The M40 Crash: Victims were the 'cream of the crop'

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The Independent Online
'THIS school has lost 10 of the nicest children anyone could ever wish to meet.' That was how Paul Hill, head of Hagley High School, yesterday morning described the pupils who lost their lives in the M40 minibus tragedy. An 11th child died last night bringing the number of deaths, including a teacher, to 12.

Also paying tribute to Eleanor Fry, the teacher, Mr Hill fought back tears and said the pupils, most of whom where musicians, were the 'cream of the crop'.

Among them was Nicola Misiolek, of Stourbridge, who would have been 13 yesterday. Her presents and cards remained unopened. Her grandmother, Dorothy Misiolek, said: 'The whole family is devastated. It was her birthday today. All her presents are still on the desk in the living room. She was looking forward to it so much.'

Nicola's friend, Charlotte Bligh of Halesowen, would have been 13 tomorrow. Her cousin, Joanne Hawkins, 23, said: 'She loved school. She was learning to play the violin and she loved ballet.'

An aunt of Adele Howell, 12, and a grandmother of Richard Hickman, also 12, said their families were too distraught to discuss the incident. Most of the families chose to handle their grief privately and in silence yesterday.

A relative of 12-year-old Ruth Clark, said her parents were 'trying to come to terms with the news'.

Charlene O'Dowd, 12, who died last night in hospital in Birmingham, was described as a 'brilliant young actress' by Betty Fox, owner of a stage school she had attended.

(Photograph omitted)

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