A SCHOOL community has been paying its respects to a boy ‘with a heart of gold’ who was found dead at his home.
Pupils and staff at Claverham Community College have been left in shock following the news of the death of student Lance Bassett.
It is believed the 15-year-old took his own life at his home in Old Roar Road, Hastings, at 7.15pm on Thursday evening.
Since the tragedy, dozens of floral tributes, pictures and poems have been left outside the college in North Trade Road, Battle.
Lance, who was due to sit his GCSE exams in a few months time, was a keen musician and played the drums and piano.
He played in the Salvation Army band with his mum Ann and dad Nigel at the Citadel in Old London Road, Ore.
His parents paid tribute to their ‘loving son’ who had an ‘infectious smile’.
His mum Ann said: “Lance had an infectious smile and the most incredible sense of fun.
“He was so incredibly loving. If he thought someone was feeling down he would go up to them and cheer them up.
“Whether they were six or 60, Lance would make them laugh.
“Lance would come out with these fantastic one-liners that would have you in stitches and you couldn’t help but laugh.
“We can’t begin to imagine why this has happened. There was just nothing different about Lance in the last few days and I don’t think we will ever know.”
Lance, who previously attended Vinehall School in Robertsbridge, had two sisters, 17-year-old Imogen and 12-year-old Alicia.
Claverham principal Paul Swatton paid tribute to the Year 11 student.
Mr Swatton said: “Everyone at Claverham Community College has been extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the tragic death of one of our pupils.
“Lance was an intelligent young man, who was working hard towards his GCSEs and had a very bright future ahead of him.
“He played a full and active part in school life and was well-liked by staff and pupils alike.
“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his family at this time.
“We are providing support to pupils and staff as they come to terms with what has happened to a popular member of the school community.”
A special assembly was held for Year 11 students on Monday to allow them to remember Lance and pupils are being invited to record their memories of their classmate in a book of memories.
There are also plans to create a permanent memorial to Lance at the school.
Many students have expressed their grief online, with several tribute websites set up in Lance’s memory.
One friend even created a touching video dedicated to Lance, featuring personal pictures of the teenager and tributes from friends.
A tribute page has also been set up on social networking website Facebook, which more than 1,500 friends, teachers and strangers have joined to pay their respects and share their memories of a boy who was ‘always cheerful and smiling’.
One friend wrote: “Claverham is like a giant family, we saw our friends there more than our own family at home.
“In a way we were all brothers and sisters and now we have lost a brother.”
Someone else added: “You seem to have added a little spark to everyone’s life and I cannot believe you’re gone.
“You were always so cheerful and smiling, always had something funny to say.”
Lance’s parents, Claverham Community College and East Sussex County Council have quashed rumours that Lance had been experiencing bullying before he died.
Sussex Police are not treating Lance’s death as suspicious.
An inquest will take place in due course.