Family’s tribute to a ‘lovely boy’ who died tragically at 19

Thomas Rhodes, who has died aged 19 EMN-170418-091625001
Thomas Rhodes, who has died aged 19 EMN-170418-091625001

A Melton family are coming to terms with the tragic loss of a son and brother who died during his first year at university.

Thomas Rhodes, who was 19, was studying at the University of Sheffield when he passed away following a fall.

Thomas Rhodes with his father David and sister Kate EMN-170418-091604001

Thomas Rhodes with his father David and sister Kate EMN-170418-091604001

His parents, David and Carmel, and 16-year- old sister Kate, spoke fondly at their home in Quorn Avenue about a teenager who was generous, loving and friendly to everyone he met.

“He was a lovely boy,” said Carmel, as she gazed at her favourite picture of Thomas, a former pupil of St Francis Primary School in Melton and De Lisle College in Loughborough.

“Very kind and loyal.

“The response from everyone has been absolutely overwhelming, from friends and people who knew Thomas from school.

Thomas Rhodes with mum Carmel and sister Kate EMN-170418-091614001

Thomas Rhodes with mum Carmel and sister Kate EMN-170418-091614001

“We’ve had lots of cards and it just shows how well loved he was.”

Thomas was studying geography at university and sharing a flat with three girls, who are all distraught at his loss. He died on Mother’s Day on March 26.

“The university have been really, really good since it happened,” said David.

“They’ve given support to his flatmates and to his friends.

“Thomas was enjoying university life and doing well at his studies.

“We had a letter from a professor who taught him and he said how popular he was with everyone there.”

Thomas was born in Guernsey, in the Channel Islands, and the family moved to Melton when he was eight.

He enjoyed attending St Francis School in the town and made many friends who he stayed close to after leaving.

Thomas loved sport and played for the junior teams at Melton Rugby Club, from the Under 12s up to Under 16s.

He also shared his dad’s love of Manchester United FC, supported Leicester Tigers RFC and was a very keen boxing fan.

One of his favourite pastimes was taking the family dog, Molly, out for walks while listening to music on his headphones. He worked for three years at the Melton Toy Shop.

David added: “Thomas was exceptionally generous. He had a real interest in Third World countries and he wanted to help them and make the world a better place.”

Kate said she had developed a close bond with her brother. She said: “He really inspired me in a lot of ways.

“He was 19 and I am 16 so we had a lot of similar interests and he loved showing me new music to get into.

“Even the distance, when he went to university, didn’t keep us apart because we were always FaceTiming each other.”

Kate added: “Thomas was so easy to get on with.

“He would talk to everyone and make friends with everyone.”

A University of Sheffield spokesperson said: “We are deeply saddened by the death of Thomas and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this extremely difficult time.

“We have been working to support everyone affected by what happened to Thomas, who was a bright and popular student here at Sheffield.”

A funeral service will be held on Thursday April 27 at St Peter’s Church, in Welby Lane, Melton, at 12.30pm.

Donations are invited for the mental health charity, Mind, and the Groeburg School in Namibia, which Thomas’ old school De Lisle College is supporting.