Northern Ireland

Ruby Dench: Family 'devastated' over schoolgirl's sudden death

Ruby Dench was in her final year at Whiteabbey Primary
Image caption Ruby Dench was in her final year at Whiteabbey Primary

The family of an 11-year-old County Antrim girl who died suddenly during a school trip to Scotland have said they are "devastated" by their loss.

Ruby Dench, a student at Whiteabbey primary school, was at Loch Inch Outdoor Centre in Scotland, when she was found unconscious.

She died later on Wednesday and her family are awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination.

In a short statement, they requested privacy "at this terrible time".

Ruby's death was described by police as "unexplained".

The Dench family statement said: "We are obviously devastated at the loss of our precious Ruby.

"Due to the distance involved and due process required, funeral arrangements have yet to be confirmed.

"The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this terrible time and private funeral details will be announced in due course."

'Unenviable task'

Teachers and pupils from the school returned home from Scotland on Wednesday evening.

Headmaster Peter Wright described Ruby as "exceptional: bright, vivacious and talented".

He received a phone call from Scotland at 05:00 BST on Wednesday to say that she had died.

"Unfortunately I had the unenviable task of going to tell the parents. Certainly I would hope never to have to do that again."

The teachers and other children on the trip had been due to return on Friday, but a decision was taken to bring them home on Wednesday evening.

The other children did not know that Ruby had died.

'Extremely upset'

"They arrived back late last night. All the parents were ready to receive them. We decided to bring them all into the comfort of the school and their friends and then we informed them," Mr Wright said.

"They were extremely upset. There were 57 other children on the trip. They were emotional and shocked. Fortunately, parents and staff were there for them."

Mr Wright said he was particularly proud of how his staff dealt with the situation.

Ruby had complained that she felt unwell and was found at 02:30 BST on Wednesday.

Efforts were made to resuscitate her. She was later pronounced dead at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

Other children on the holiday who complained of feeling unwell were examined but there was no cause for concern.