A former Sandbach School student was killed fighting in the conflict in Ukraine.
Jordan Gatley, who left the school in 2014, joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces in Severodonetsk after he was discharged from the British army.
On Friday the 24-year-old’s father Dean was informed that his son was fatally shot on the frontline while fighting in the battle for the eastern city, which has seen Russian troops advance in recent weeks.
He described his son as a “hero” on social media, the first of many tributes paid.
Lisa Lalor was Mr Gatley’s head of year for his last two years at the school and he was part of her first year group. During his time at the school he would have known her as Mrs Holdsworth.
She said: “I’m really upset to hear about this because I think back to when they did their GCSEs. Twenty or so students would give me their phones before an exam, because back then not everyone had one.
“He’d come up and bring his phone for me to look after while he did his exams, and I would give him a Freddo after it – as I would with all the students who left their phones with me.
“Jordan was a lovely, smiling, care-free, happy lad who just got on with it – an absolute pleasure. It’s absolutely heart-breaking.”
His father said that Mr Gatley, who served as a rifleman in the British Army with the Edinburgh-based 3rd Btn of The Rifles, travelled to the war-torn country “after careful consideration” as he wanted to “help Ukraine”.
His former school released a statement. It read: “Sandbach School was saddened to learn over the weekend that a former student, Jordan Gatley, had been killed fighting for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
“Jordan left Sandbach School in 2014. He was well-liked and is remembered fondly by staff and his peers. Always happy and smiling, Jordan often spoke about his dream of joining the army.
“The entire Sandbach School community wishes to extend its sincerest condolences to his family and close friends at this most difficult of times.”
The flag at the school was flown at half-mast in Mr Gatley’s memory this week as staff members and students reflected on his life.
“Straight away my heart just sank, he was one of our boys,” added Sarah Burns, was the head teacher of Sandbach School.