'Bright and engaged' Birstall student dies while on study trip to Tanzania

Generic view of Zebras and Wildebeast  in Selous Game Reserve (Photo JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)
Generic view of Zebras and Wildebeast in Selous Game Reserve (Photo JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)

Tributes have been paid to a 'bright and engaged' biology student from Birstall who has died on a study trip in Africa.

University of York student Caitlin Cole, 20, died on the trip to Tanzania while visiting with fellow students.

A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed the death, while a professor at the University has said everyone was "deeply saddened" by the news.

"Caitlin came to the University of York in 2017, and from the outset proved herself to be bright and engaged," she said.

"Caitlin's passion for conservation and ecology grew and developed during her studies, galvanised by a field trip to Portugal where she was an active and supportive member of the group.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with Caitlin's family and friends at this very sad time."

Prof Potts said this was the fourth field trip to Tanzania to have been undertaken by staff and students in the biology department.

“A group of undergraduate students were studying tropical ecology and conservation in Northern Tanzania,” she added.

"Following Caitlin's tragic death, the students decided to remain as a group in Tanzania for the last few days of the trip where they received appropriate support.

"Since their return, the university has provided access to continued support and counselling."

A spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said staff were offering support to Caitlin’s family but did not comment on the circumstances surrounding her death.

An official at Bradford Coroner's Court said the coroner was investigating Caitlin's death to ascertain whether it should go forward to an inquest.

In an obituary notice posted in a local paper today (Fri) Caitlin's family said she was "precious" and "much-loved".

The notice said Requiem Mass would be celebrated at St Anne's Cathedral, Leeds, at 1.30pm on Thursday, October 24, followed by interment in Birstall Churchyard.

It added that her parents Colette and Nick were requesting donations to be made in lieu of flowers for a tree planting project they were planning in Caitlin’s memory.

The University of York’s biology department is regarded as one of the UK’s elite university biological sciences departments.

Its website says Tanzania is one of four locations to which students can go on field courses, giving them chance to "immerse yourself in the incredible ecosystem of the African savannah".