Discovery Bay school to hold service for much loved maths teacher who died in accident on ski trip

Memorial to be held at school on coming Sunday to celebrate Mark O’Reilly’s life

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 February, 2017, 5:06pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2017, 11:58am

Students and teachers at an international school are preparing to commemorate the life of a much loved maths teacher who died while on a school trip at a ski resort in Switzerland.

Mark O’Reilly, a teacher at Discovery Bay International School (DBIS) for more than four years, was found dead on February 5 outside the grounds of Les Elfes International Ski Resort in Verbier.

The Irish citizen is believed to have had an accident while out walking the night before he was found, head of school Paul Tough said.

Swiss police are not treating his death as suspicious, he added, in a statement posted on the school’s official Facebook page.

A memorial service is due to be held at the school on the coming Sunday to celebrate O’Reilly’s life.

In a statement on the school’s website and its Facebook page, Mr Tough said students and teachers had been left shocked by his death.

“As DBIS is such a close school community, a tragedy such as this touches everyone at school,” he said. “Mr O’Reilly was a much loved and a highly respected member of our community. His sudden death is shocking and confusing to us all.

“He was a hugely respected member of staff and his caring, engaged, committed and gentle approach will be greatly missed.

“Our intention now is to collectively celebrate Mr O’Reilly’s life and how much he meant to us all at DBIS. To this end staff and students are planning a memorial service to be held on the morning Sunday, February 19. The service will be open to everyone at school and the wider community.”

Members of O’Reilly’s family travelled to Switzerland after his disappearance was first announced.

The rest of the school group returned to Hong Kong soon afterwards, the school said.

Students have been offered support from Saint John’s Counselling Service.

Parents and members of the wider school community posted messages of support on the school’s Facebook page after O’Reilly was revealed to have gone missing.

Samantha Murray said: “Such very sad news. Thoughts and prayers with Mr O’Reilly’s family, friends and students at this difficult time.”

Anna Stephenson-Knight wrote: “Oh my goodness! Sending huge love and prayers from the UK”.

According to an online memorial page, O’Reilly’s body was flown back to his home town of Bunnoe in the County of Cavan in Ireland ahead of his funeral on February 11 at St Mary’s Church Bunnoe.

He was the eldest son of Brian and Teresa O’Reilly, and had three siblings – Amanda, Aaron and Melissa.

In a note of thanks to family and friends on Facebook, his sister Amanda said: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of Mark’s friends for your beautiful and heartwarming photos and words, it has given us some comfort in a time of such heartache.”