A pool-side teaching room has been opened at a school in memory of a well-known teacher and rugby player who died of a heart attack, aged just 52.
Tony Zaidel, a senior leader and sports co-ordinator at The Meadows Sports College, in Oldbury, was found dead in a bedroom at his home in Halesowen after he failed to turn up to work.
Yesterday, his widow Jo Zaidel was invited to the school to open The Tony Zaidel Aqua-Sensory and Learning Room.
Principal Gordon Phillips said: “We have never named a room after any member of staff before. But Tony was in the senior team and did so much above the call of duty.
“He worked at weekends, he came in during the school holidays, always in early. We wanted to give him a very special tribute and show our appreciation to someone who always went the extra mile.”
The room was originally a pool-side store room at the school, but it has been converted so it includes coloured lights, painted pictures on the walls of sea life and sensory equipment to stimulate pupils’ senses.
It will be used by children unable to take part part in swimming sessions. It cost around £500 to transform the old store room.
Mrs Zaidel said: “He would have been really proud, he always put students’ enjoyment first, then learning.
“He was eager to get things completed so that those not swimming would not be left out.
“I am very delighted with the enthusiasm of all staff who continue to build on his many achievements.
“What was once a store cupboard is now an exception learning environment and he would want the good work to continue. I deeply appreciate what The Meadows Sports College has done to commemorate his memory and it was so touching to open The Tony Zaidel Aqua-Sensory and Learning Room.”
Mr Zaidel worked at The Meadows Sports College for five years.
Before this he worked at Stuart Bathurst Catholic School in Wednesbury for more than ten years.
He was a prop forward and played nine first-team games for Walsall Rugby Club in the early 1990s, playing his final game against Rosslyn Park in September 1993.
Mr Phillips said: “Most of the work was done before Tony died.
“But we have only just finished it so I decided to name the last piece of work Tony was involved in after him. It is a fitting tribute.”