Epsom College asks for space after shocking deaths of school head and her family
The private school where the bodies of its headmistress and her family were found dead has pleaded for “time and space” to process “these shocking events”.
Epsom College head Emma Pattison, 45, her husband George, 39, and their daughter Lettie, seven, were found in the grounds of the school in the early hours of Sunday morning by the South East Coast Ambulance Service.
In a statement late on Sunday evening, the elite school, which was named independent school of the year in 2022, asked for privacy as the school community grappled with the shocking news and the loss of its head.
“It is with the deepest sadness and regret that we have to announce the news of the deaths of Emma Pattison, Head of Epsom College, her daughter Lettie, and her husband George,” the school said.
“Our thoughts, condolences and sympathies are with their families at this tragic time.”
Surrey Police earlier confirmed that it was an isolated incident and there was no third-party involvement.
The school added: “The college is working with the police in what remains an ongoing investigation. We must now focus on the welfare and wellbeing of our pupils and staff, and work to ensure that they receive all the comfort, warmth and support required from the Epsom College community.”
The college concluded the statement by saying: “We ask that the public and the media respect the privacy of Emma’s family, and help us to prioritise the needs of our pupils.
Watch: Residents’ ‘shock’ at death of Epsom College head and family
“The news is heartbreaking and we need time and space to come together and process these shocking events. No further statement will be issued at this time.”
Police said the family’s next of kin have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers while an investigation is now under way to establish the circumstances of their deaths.
Detective Chief Inspector Kimball Edey said: “On behalf of Surrey Police, my team, and I, I first want to express my sincerest condolences to the friends and family of Emma, Lettie and George, as well as to the students and staff of Epsom College, for their tragic loss.
“I want to give my assurance that we will conduct a thorough investigation into what took place last night, and hope to be able to bring some peace in these traumatic circumstances. I would ask that their privacy is respected at this very difficult time.”
Inspector Jon Vale, Epsom and Ewell’s borough commander, said: “We’re aware that this tragic incident will have caused concern and upset in the local community.
“While this is believed to be an isolated incident, in the coming days our local officers will remain in the area to offer reassurance to students, parents, teachers and the local community.
“I would like to thank the school and the community for their understanding and patience while the investigation continues.”
Surrey Police said the three deaths have been reported to the coroner.
Dr Alastair Wells, chairman of the board of governors at Epsom College, said: “On behalf of everyone at Epsom College, I want to convey our utter shock and disbelief at this tragic news.
“Our immediate thoughts and condolences are with Emma’s family, friends and loved ones, and to the many pupils and colleagues whose lives she enriched throughout her distinguished career.
“Emma was a wonderful teacher, but most of all she was a delightful person. In time we will commemorate Emma and her family, in the appropriate way, and in line with the wishes of her family.
“But for now, we ask that we are all given the time, space and respect we need to come to terms with this tragic loss.”
Mrs Pattison became Epsom’s first female head in September 2022 after six years as headteacher of Croydon High School in south London.
Boarding students at the college pay more than £42,000 a year and its alumni include Conservative MP Sir Michael Fallon, broadcaster Jeremy Vine and comedian Tim Vine.
Epsom College won the top prize at the Independent Schools of the Year Awards 2022, with judges calling it a “beacon of excellence”.
The school was also named the winner of the Student Wellbeing Award at the October ceremony thanks to its “whole-school approach to mental health and the wellbeing of both its staff and pupils”.
More than 850 boys and girls attend the school, which was founded in 1853, and its acting head has been listed as Paul Williams.
Mrs Pattison’s husband George was a chartered accountant who was director of a management consultancy firm called Tanglewood 2016, according to Companies House.