School grief over death of kind Josh

Memorials at Highgate School to sixth former Josh Dorgu who died suddenly at School

Memorials at Highgate School to sixth former Josh Dorgu who died suddenly at School - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Tributes have been pouring in for the “happy and kind” sixth-former who died after collapsing in front of shocked classmates at Highgate School.

Memorials at Highgate School to sixth former Josh Dorgu who died suddenly at School

Memorials at Highgate School to sixth former Josh Dorgu who died suddenly at School - Credit: Nigel Sutton

In an emotional outpouring of grief hundreds of heartbroken pupils and staff posted messages on a memory board to 18-year-old A level student Josh Dorgu.

The board was created by Josh’s fellow students in the school’s central hall along with flowers, books of rememberance and a shrine in the school chapel.

His friends spelt out his name in candles and placed a red and white scarf, packets of his favourite Haribo sweets and drumsticks by the altar for the young Arsenal fan who played the drums in church every Sunday.

A vigil and a minute’s silence were also held at the school in North Hill on Tuesday afternoon – exactly one week after Josh fell ill during a maths lesson on January 20.

Memorials at Highgate School to sixth former Josh Dorgu who died suddenly at School

Memorials at Highgate School to sixth former Josh Dorgu who died suddenly at School - Credit: Nigel Sutton


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Staff desperately performed CPR but were unable to resuscitate him.

He was taken by ambulance to the Royal Free Hospital where he was treated for a cardiac arrest and later pronounced dead.

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His parents, the Rev Karowei Dorgu, a former GP, and wife Mosun, a psychiatrist, were by his side.

A post-mortem was being carried out this week.

Josh Dorgu was a year 12 student at Highgate School

Josh Dorgu was a year 12 student at Highgate School - Credit: Archant

Highgate headmaster Adam Pettitt, told how Josh “greeted everyone with a smile.”

He said “This is a terrible tragedy for Josh’s family, and our hearts go out to his parents and their wider family. Josh knew great friendship at school: he was a lively, fun-filled young man of strong faith with an irrepressible gift for making people laugh,..for picking people up when they were down and for making them feel welcome.

“He is missed terribly.”

One girl, who chose to be anonymous, wrote: “I am so glad that we got to have such a happy, charming, funny and most important of all cheeky boy in our year for so many years.

“I will never forget your adorable laugh and how you were always making other people smile and laugh.

“Thanks for the endless fist pumps and ‘hey babes’ that you gave me on a weekly basis. Rest in peace, we will all miss you greatly.”

Another female classmate said: “You brightened my day. Every time I passed you there was always a smile and cheeky wink. I always laughed when I was with you, whether it was crazily running around winter wonderland – encouraging me onto the rides – or just talking in the common room in break. You are great, kind, funny and happy. We will always remember you and treasure the memories we have.”

Josh was in Year 12 and preparing to take A-levels in maths, economics, religious studies and philosophy. He died after collapsing in front of shocked classmates at school.

A fellow maths student wrote: “So great was your humour that you turned critical method into one of my favourite lessons.”

One friend wrote the simple words: “It was all in your smile for me.”

Highgate School headmaster Adam Pettitt told how Josh greeted everyone in the corridor with a smile and a gentle fist pump.

He said that the school chapel was being kept open so mourners could “come and go as they wish.”

Pupils were being helped by bereavement charity Grief Encounter and school chaplains.

On Sunday morning up to 300 members of the local community filled St John The Evangelist Church, in Upper Holloway, where Josh’s father, Dr Karowei Dorgu, is the vicar, to support him, wife Mosun and Josh’s elder brother Timi in prayers.

They paid tribute to the “good boy with the kind heart.”

Dr Dorgu spoke of the family’s pain but said they had been comforted by the support of the local community, friends and the school.

He said: “It is our loss but your loss too as we are all a family. Thank you so much for being here.”

Community pastor and close family friend Mark Johnson paid tribute to Josh, the “son, brother, cousin and schoolfriend”.

He said: “Joshy turned out to be such a wonderful young man. We all have our own personal Joshy stories. Whether you knew him for years, or just met him, he made a huge impact on everyone.”

He told how Josh had a talent for looking after young children in the congregation and how proud he was to recently pass his driving test.

He said: He was such a sweet, good boy. He was so wonderful and so helpful. What other boy his age would get up every Sunday morning to play the drums in church every week?”

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