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Headteacher's death prompts 'unprecedented' online response

The death of a well-known headteacher prompted an unprecedented outpouring of grief on the pages of the Peterborough Evening Telegraph’s website.

Jed Holmes, from the city’s Hampton Hargate Primary School, was found dead at his home on Wednesday, and a story was posted on peterboroughtoday.co.uk later that day.

Assistant editor Brad Barnes, who oversees the ET’s digital operation, said: “In line with requests from the police we did not name Mr Holmes in our initial report on Wednesday evening.

“However, within minutes, a member of the public had left a tribute online naming Mr Holmes, followed by another, and we followed suit.

“The following morning dozens of people – young children, parents and former pupils – had left quite moving tributes and thousands of people had viewed the article.

“For the ET, the story had moved on from the death of a headteacher to the reaction to it, and we published many of the online tributes alongside the story in the paper.”

The ET followed up Thursday’s splash with another on Friday, such was the response on the website.

Brad said he had seen people share their grief by paying tribute on the website following recent tragedies, but never anything on this scale.

He said: “We had around 20,000 views on the online articles and around 150 comments, all paying respects to a man who was clearly well-known and much-loved.

“It was a privilege to be able to play a part in reflecting that huge sense of loss online and on the pages on the ET.”

Do you have a story about the regional press? Ring 0116 227 3122/3121, or e-mail
patrick.astill@and.co.uk