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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 August 2007, 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK
Teacher killed on Australia trip
Ian Robinson
Ian Robinson was killed when his raft capsized
A PE teacher from a public school has been killed in a white water rafting accident on a school trip to Australia.

Ian Robinson, 47, of St Helens, was leading a group of teenage boys from Merchant Taylors' School in Crosby, Merseyside, on a three-week rugby tour.

He was on a river in Queensland when his raft overturned and his foot became trapped, submerging him under water for several minutes.

Despite attempts to save him, he died before an ambulance arrived.

The accident happened on the Tully River in Cairns at 1230 local time on Tuesday, when Mr Robinson was out on the fast-moving waters as part of a 14-boat flotilla.

Everyone involved at Merchants is very sad and profoundly shocked
Headmaster David Cook

The trip has now been cut short and the party are returning home early. There were 24 boys aged 15 to 17 on the journey, accompanied by four teachers.

The school said they had travelled to Australia to play rugby against teams from Brisbane, Sydney and Darwin.

The white water rafting was one of several events organised for the boys in their spare time.

A statement on the school's website said it was "with great sadness" that it announced the death of the popular teacher.

Headmaster David Cook said: "Ian Robinson has taught at Merchant Taylors' since 1984 and was very popular with staff and boys alike.

Map showing Tully River, Cairns

"He was an immensely hard-working and caring professional. Over a generation of boys have benefited from his teaching and care. He will be very much missed and very fondly remembered.

"Everyone involved at Merchants is very sad and profoundly shocked. Our heartfelt sympathy is with Mr Robinson's wife and family."

The statement said: "No other participants were injured but students on the trip and those accompanying them are naturally very shocked.

"They are being counselled by professionals and will be flown back to the UK earlier than originally planned."

Mr Robinson was head of rugby at the fee-paying boys' school, which teaches boys aged from eight to 18.

Ben Kay
I know I wouldn't be sat here now if it hadn't been for him. I really am genuinely devastated.
Ben Kay, England Rugby Union player and former pupil

Tributes have appeared on the website Facebook, with one former pupil describing Mr Robinson as a "fantastic teacher and friend to all of us".

Among his former pupils is England rugby hero Ben Kay who has also paid tribute to the man he said he owed "a huge debt".

The second-row forward said Ian Robinson was largely responsible for his success.

"I know that I wouldn't be sat here now in an England shirt if it hadn't been for him. So I really am genuinely devastated.

"He really was one of life's good guys. He was always very supportive and had a cracking rapport with all the kids."

The 31-year-old Leicester Tigers player added: "He was certainly the person who fostered a love a love for the game in me and he did that with everyone, it wasn't just the guys who were good at rugby.

"He encouraged everyone to enjoy the game and that's something I try and remember."

Merchant Taylors' School
Ian Robinson had taught at the school since 1984

Charles Woodward, owner of the rafting company at Tully River, told a local news website that their standards were the highest in the world.

He added that the death was devastating for all concerned and extended his sympathy to the man's family and friends.

Mr Robinson's widow, his second wife, Elizabeth, was said by relatives to be too upset to pay tribute.

Southport MP John Pugh taught at the school with Mr Robinson for several years before joining the House of Commons.

"He was genuinely somebody who had not an enemy in the world and was regarded very positively by all who knew him," he said.

"He was a very good teacher and very affable. He was very well liked."

Tributes paid to Ian Robinson

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