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Statement: Viv Gillespie

News overview

It is with great sadness that we have to inform you of some sad news relating to our principal of seven and a half years, Viv Gillespie.

On Friday 31 March 2023, Viv peacefully passed away after a short illness.

A photograph of Viv Gillespie

Image: Cherry Beesley/Simply C Photography

Viv was a dedicated educationalist who spent over 30 years working in the sector.

Viv’s working life saw her positively support thousands of people via a varied career in teaching and management. She continued this work in more senior roles gaining her first Principal role working at City College Plymouth, followed positions as Principal for Northumberland College and then South Worcestershire College, before taking over at Suffolk New College in June 2015, stepping down in January 2023 on medical grounds.

During her time at Suffolk New College, she successfully navigated a period of great positive change that saw the institution join forces with Suffolk Rural (formally Otley College) and open two new ‘On The Coast’ campuses based in Halesworth and Leiston.

Acting Principal of the College, Alan Pease, who worked with Viv as Deputy Principal said; “Our college community is devastated by this news. During her time here, Viv committed to improving the lives of those living in this county and beyond by offering exceptional educational and training opportunities for all. She developed a culture of helping others and as a consequence of this, students and staff always support numerous local and national charity campaigns throughout the year.

“Viv was extremely private who was never the sort of person to shout from the rooftops about her own achievements. She liked to proudly sit in the background and let others take the glory. A keen gardener, I’ve never seen her more proud when she joined horticulture students at the Suffolk Show last year as they celebrated winning a double gold medal for their garden design. Viv was fiercely determined, incredibly loyal, honest and a great relationship builder behind the scenes. She was a brilliant figurehead for one of the largest educational facilities in the county and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her.”

Mr Pease added: “As a college we will create a fitting tribute to celebrate Viv’s life that will remember the outstanding contribution she made during her time with us.

For now, our priority is to process her passing and our thoughts are very much with her family and friends at this time.”

Posted 4 April 2023