TRIBUTES have been paid to a Sawtry Community College student who died yesterday (Thursday).

TRIBUTES have been paid to a Sawtry Community College student who died yesterday (Thursday).

Sophie Howard, 13, was socialising with friends in Middletons Road Recreation Ground, in Yaxley, when she was struck by a falling tree branch just after 2.30pm. Despite the efforts of doctors from a nearby GP surgery and paramedics, Sophie died from her injuries at Peterborough City Hospital. She leaves a twin brother Elliot.

In a statement, her parents, Martin and Laura, said: “Sophie was a beautiful girl who had so many friends and we will miss her with all our heart.

“She was enthusiastic at school and liked English. She loved music, especially JLS and Jessie J.

“She was an excellent runner and enjoyed running the Race for Life for charity. She was a typical girlie girl and loved socialising, make-up and fashion. Her friends were very important to her.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our friends and family for their support at this difficult time. Sophie has a twin brother who is also suffering greatly.”

They described her death as a “tragic incident” and said they did not want it to be connected to any other events.

Professional councillors were at Sophie's school on Friday and would continue to be available to students next week.

In a statement, Sawtry Community College, which was closed on Thursday due to the teachers' strike, said: “Sophie was a popular young lady who approached her time at the college with poise and maturity. She was bright and cheerful and was held in high regard by all those who knew her, especially her friends and teachers. She was an extremely able student who appeared to have a great future in front of her; she worked hard and had made excellent progress during her time in the college.

“Sophie's loss is a tragedy and our thoughts are with her family and friends today and in the weeks to come, as they struggle to cope with this tragic event.”

The college has confirmed that an event to celebrate Sophie's life will be held in the future but a date has not yet been set. Her family will be fully involved in planning and organising this event.

By Friday afternoon, more than 900 people had left messages of condolence on a Facebook page set up in her memory.

One message, from Graham Cooper, the headteacher at her former primary school, read: “On behalf of all of us at William de Yaxley Junior School we would like to express our deep shock and sadness over the loss of Sophie. All staff and pupils remember Sophie with such love and warmth. She always had a lovely smile and was such a credit to both her family and our school. Our deepest sympathy goes to her family and everyone else who knew and loved her.”