Teacher in death hoax

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A retired Leyland teacher has spoken of his shock after 900 people signed up to a Facebook group claiming he was dead.

David Puddy, 61, taught chemistry at Lostock Hall Community High School& Arts College for 32 years and was known for his trademark lab coat. His fame was such that a group was set up on social networking site Facebook dedicated to him – which is where a rumour spread that he had died from a heart attack.

Mr Puddy, who is fighting fit and has had no serious health problems, says he couldn’t believe it when his wife Joan got a phone call asking if he had passed away.

He said: “My wife was called by a former colleague of mine from school, who at first didn’t know how to broach the subject.

“He mentioned a rumour had started on Facebook that I had died. Luckily, I was sat in the living room so Joan knew it wasn’t true. “If I had been away at the time though, I’m sure it would have been quite upsetting for her.”

Messages left on the site from hundreds of devastated former pupils, called ‘Mr Puddy Appreciation Society’ includes those saying: “Heaven has gained an angel, my thoughts and prayers to your family. Goodnight, God bless Sir xx.

‘Shine brightly in the sky Sir’, and ‘Mr Puddy was probably my favourite teacher. I loved the way he pronounced ‘lab rules’. Thanks Sir x”

Several other groups have also been set up on Facebook, called ‘We miss Mr Puddy’, ‘RIP Mr Puddy’, and ‘Rest in peace Mr P’.

David says he doesn’t want to look at the messages and is most concerned for his family, including three children, who could have been misled by the lie.

He said: “I have had one or two phone calls asking if I was alright.

“I have never been on Facebook so I didn’t know what people saying but my family could have heard about it. My son lives in Cambridge and I’m sure he would have been upset if he had come across it.

“My wife said she felt a bit odd about it too.”

Mr Puddy, who retired last summer and now lives in Euxton, says he thinks social networking sites like Facebook should be regulated to stop things like this from happening again.

He said: “I can understand how rumours like that spread. You might overhear someone talking about something and it just goes on from there.

“Whether it was malicious or not I don’t know. I hope it wasn’t.

“I think these sites definitely need to be regulated. I have heard about people being bullied online and there doesn’t seem to be any come back.

“People can say whatever they like - and that is wrong.

“I heard about the appreciation group that was set up while I was still at school but I didn’t want to look because you never know whether people will be saying nice things or not.

“Being a teacher for so many years I have heard a few things - but this was certainly a very odd one.”

A spokesman for Facebook said they were unable to comment on individual cases, but had taken the group down since being contacted by the Guardian because it breached their terms of use.

MORE TRIBUTES

Such sad news - RIP Mr Puddy. You were a true legend and your memory will continue to live on for many, many years. My thoughts go out to the family and friends you have left behind. Goodbye Sir xxx

Rest in peace Mr Puddy. Remember, sodium chloride will always be the stuff you put on your chips.

Such a shame. Huge loss of a loved teacher and brilliant, funny character.

Memories never fade, RIP x

I only saw him on Thursday pushing his grandchild in a pram. Very sad

RIP Mr Puddy you were a gentleman and a scholar. God bless x

RIP Mr Puddy. You touched so many lives, a true legend. My thoughts are with your family. Gone but never forgotten. P.U.D.D.Y

Missed but always, always remembered. Sincere condolences to his family, he was a well-liked gentleman.