Tributes paid to 'spirited' university student after four drug deaths

6 October 2020, 11:02 | Updated: 6 October 2020, 11:03

Tributes have been paid to Jeni Larmour
Tributes have been paid to Jeni Larmour. Picture: Instagram

By Maddie Goodfellow

Tributes have been paid to a "spirited" and "outstanding" student from Northern Ireland who was found dead less than 48 hours after starting at Newcastle University.

Jeni Larmour is one of four young people who died after allegedly taking illegal drugs over the weekend.

Mr Larmour died on Saturday morning, with another woman found unresponsive in the same university accommodation on Sunday.

Newcastle university said both women had been in the city for less than 48 hours.

An 18-year-old, who was not a student and a 21-year-old from Northumbria University also died over the weekend, after they apparently took MDMA.

On Tuesday, The Royal School in County Armagh posted a message on its Instagram page in tribute to their former deputy head girl.

The post said: "It is with a profound sense of sadness and loss that the school community has learned of the sudden death of former Deputy Head Girl, Jeni Larmour.

"Jeni came to the Royal School in Year 8 and in the years that followed was a model pupil, exemplifying many of the values which this school seeks to promote."

Jeni was attending Newcastle University
Jeni was attending Newcastle University. Picture: PA

It continued: "Her outstanding qualities as a pupil were recognised in her final year when she was appointed Deputy Head Girl, a role she carried out to a very high standard.

"It was Jeni’s ambition to attend the Royal School and she wasted none of the opportunities offered to her here.

"Jeni threw herself enthusiastically into school life. She was part of the highly successful Combined Cadet Force ‘mil skills’ team and she worked closely with younger cadets to encourage them to develop their skills.

"Her capacity for encouraging others and showing leadership were evident when she was chosen for the important role of Student Leader at the Gordonstoun International Summer School in the summer of 2019.

"She was a highly valued member of the Chamber Choir and was blessed with a beautiful singing voice. She combined that beautiful voice and a brilliant sense of comic timing when she masterfully played the role of Madame de la Grande Bouche in the school production of Walt Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”.

"In October 2019 Jeni was part of the school’s signature charity project, the ASHA team which spent ten days in the Trilok Puri slum in New Delhi.

"This trip required significant commitment and was the culmination of a year of fundraising activity by Jeni and the other team members.

"Jeni was a spirited and independently minded girl with clear views which she was happy to articulate in a respectful manner and she was possessed of a well developed sense of justice.

"Through her work on the School Council she was instrumental in promoting plans for the ‘greening’ of the school site through tree planting.

"We extend to her many friends, her family, brother and parents our sincerest sympathy at this tragic time and assure them of our prayers and practical support."

Northumbria Police said they have so far arrested a total of 10 people and an investigation is under way, including using drug dogs to search student accommodation.

Newcastle University's vice-chancellor Professor Chris Day said freshers' week had not been a factor in either of the young students' deaths.

During a virtual news conference, he said: "This happened in the first 48 hours, freshers' week had only just started to kick off."

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Chief Inspector Steve Wykes urged anyone with any illegal drugs to dispose of them safely.

He said: "This weekend, we have seen the tragic loss of four young lives and our thoughts continue to be with the family and friends of those who have sadly died.

"Illegal drugs are never safe and the danger that they pose cannot be underestimated."

CI Wykes said it is still too early to say if the drugs were part of two larger deadly batches police know about.