College pays tribute to a ‘tremendous talent’

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A “tremendous talent”, “a dedicated model student” and “a pleasant fella with a lovely soft nature” are only some of the warm tributes paid to late Caolan Page by his teachers.

The staff and students at St Columb’s College were stunned this week with the news that the 19 year-old had died after being found unconscious in Derry City Centre following a night out with friends.

In a fitting tribute to the talented young artist and sculptor, his friends and teachers at the college spent Monday arranging some of his most treasured pieces of work in an exhibition in the school’s art department. The impressive display includes a collection of ceramic sculptures and design drawings by the year 14 student.

Malachy McGonagle, Head of the Art Department, said Caolan had a “particular interest in working with clay” and had produced “tremendous work”.

“He was a tremendous talent, especially in working with ceramics.”

However, although he had a an obvious creative flair Caolan’s ambition was to become a veterinary surgeon. He was also very highly thought of in the college’s science department.

“He did very well in his A-levels but he wanted to do a particular course in veterinary so he came back to get even higher results,” Mr McGonagle explained.

Art teacher Kevin O’Donnell, who specialises in three dimensional artwork, added: “Caolon was very talented and a very dedicated model student. He was always very pleasant and was always very excited about his work. He seemed to have a very natural affinity for working with clay, he had a real gift and was certainly one of the finest sculptors I’ve ever had the pleasure to teach.”

Art and Design teacher Geraldine McCay recalled Caolan as a “very pleasant young fella with a lovely soft nature”.

She said the of the display: “The idea was to pay tribute to him by putting on an exhibition of his work. This is a very visual testament to his skill.”

The Caolan Page memorial exhibition will remain on display at the school for a time but the artworks will eventually be given to his family.

Mr McGonagle said the death of Caolan had “utterly stunned” everyone at the school.

“Our thoughts are very much with his family and we’d like to extend our sympathy to them at this terrible time.”