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College pays tribute to girl, 17, who was among three killed by devastating car crash

A college has paid tribute to a "bright and confident" beauty therapy student who became the third teenager to die after a devastating crash last month.

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Sophie Bates, from Stafford, was a back-seat passenger in a Ford Ka when it crashed into a tree in Cannock Road, Penkridge, on May 25.

Emergency services rushed to the scene shortly before midnight and discovered the 17-year-old in a critical condition.

She was taken to hospital but despite efforts made to save her, died three days later.

A college has paid tribute to Sophie Bates

Craig Hodgson, principal and chief executive of Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group (NSCG) where Sophie Bates attended, issued a moving tribute on social media on Tuesday evening.

Mr Hodgson said: "Sophie was studying Level 2 Beauty Therapy at NSCG Stafford College and was described by her lecturers as 'a bright, confident, motivated student with a positive attitude and a great sense of humour, which meant she was always laughing'.

"Sophie was doing exceptionally well at college and at her placement at The Infirmary Hair and Beauty in Stafford, where she had been offered a part time job around her studies.

"She was looking forward to completing additional nail courses at the salon and returning to NSCG to complete her Level 3 Beauty Therapy course in September.

"She loved having music playing in the salon, was great with clients and was a fantastic friend and supportive peer to the others in the group. There was no doubt that Sophie would have had an incredibly bright future in the beauty industry."

Sophie became the third person to die after the crash, which also claimed the lives of Welsh teenagers Dafydd Hûw Craven-Jones, aged 18, of Tanyfron, Wrexham, and Morgan Jones, aged 17, of Coedpoeth, Wrexham.

(L-R): Dafydd Hûw Craven-Jones, Morgan Jones and Sophie Bates

Brooke Varley, aged 17 from Newport, was also a back-seat passenger in the car at the time of the crash and was taken to hospital but thankfully survived.

Mr Hodgson added: "Sophie’s family, who visited college today [Tuesday], and friends remain in the thoughts and prayers of everyone connected with NSCG at this incredibly sad time.

"We also send our thoughts to Sophie’s close friend, Brooke Varley, who also studies on a Level 2 Beauty Therapy course at NSCG Stafford College.

"Brooke was badly injured in the accident, but is now thankfully recovering at home in the care of her loving family. We send our thoughts and healing wishes to Brooke, and will welcome her back to her studies, with the support that she needs, at an appropriate time.

"The death of a NSCG student is something that deeply affects our community, and our team of safeguarding and well-being officers and counsellors are currently supporting Sophie’s friends, peers and staff.

A sea of tributes has been left at the foot of a tree in Cannock Road, Penkridge

"A book of reflection will open later this week, which will allow fellow students and staff to leave their own personal tributes, memories and recollections of Sophie."

In the days that followed the fatal crash, a sea of floral tributes were left at the foot of a tree on Cannock Road along with a Welsh flag, teddy bears and touching messages from loved ones of the teenagers.