The student who was stabbed for trying to break up a fight

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The Independent Online

Thomas Grant was up bright and early on Saturday to catch a train for a well-earned bank holiday break with his family after finishing his first-year exams at university.

The 19-year-old, who had been looking forward to a career in the Army, never arrived at his parents' home in Churchtown, Gloucestershire. He was stabbed as the Glasgow-to-Paignton train travelled through Cumbria and died from a single heart wound before he reached hospital.

The stabbing was witnessed by horrified passengers who saw the student try to break up a fight on the train. Many had to be counselled after the incident. Yesterday his family, friends and teachers were struggling to come to terms with the death. His teachers described him as a role model while his friends simply regarded him as "one of the lads."

Mr Grant was studying history and Arabic at the University of St Andrews in Fife. Charles Jacks, who shared a boarding house with Mr Grant at the fee-paying Oakham School in Rutland, said: "I couldn't believe it at first. It's just the most terrible thing to have happened. It's the most unlikely thing to have happened. We're devastated."

Mr Jacks said his friend had been planning to apply to the Sandhurst military academy after university. "He couldn't wait to go there," he said. "He was a genuine guy. He was a real joker, and really popular."

Dr Joseph Spence, headmaster of Oakham, called Mr Grant a "model pupil." He had captained the school's first XI football team and was a leading member of the Combined Cadet Force. At last year's speech day, he had been awarded a cup for his performance in the cadet force and a prize for "promise, endeavour and achievement". Dr Spence said: "All who study and work at Oakham School have been deeply saddened to hear of the tragic and violent death of Tom Grant.

"He had many friends and touched the lives of all his teachers and peers. He was a vivid personality. Always alert to the needs of others, he will live long in the memories of everyone who knew him."

Stephen Magee, vice-principal at St Andrews, said: "We are deeply saddened by this news. Tom was a bright, extremely able student who had made many friends in his first year with us and was a very popular and active member of the university community. To have lost someone so young in such circumstances is utterly tragic. Our deepest sympathies are with Tom's mother and father."

At university, Mr Grant had continued the school activities he had most enjoyed, joining the Officer Training Corps.

Yesterday, the curtains were drawn at his parents' detached home. A neighbour who did not wish to be named, said: "He seemed to be a nice young man. What happened to him is awful."

A memorial service is planned for the teenager.

* Thomas Lee Wood, 21, of Skelmersdale, Lancashire, was remanded in custody by magistrates in Kendal, Cumbria, charged with the murder of Mr Grant. Mr Wood, wearing a white T-shirt, spoke only to confirm his name and personal details during the 10-minute hearing.