The German School is mourning the loss of a geography and French teacher who died during a school basketball tournament.

Reto Nicolai died suddenly during the tournament in Ankara, Turkey on March 12.

The 54-year-old is survived by his wife, Philippa and their sons, Alexander, 17 and Roland, 15, as well as his mother and brother.

Mr Nicolai, originally from Switzerland, taught at the Petersham Road school for more than 18 years, and as well as teaching geography and French he ran the Swiss Club.

He worked to inspire pupils and peers by inviting fascinating visitors to the school including a Gobi Desert researcher.

A spokesman for the school explained Mr Nicolai would be remembered as a passionate and caring teacher by his pupils.

“Mr Nicolai’s warm smile, sparkling eyes and musical Swiss accent delighted all he met. Because of his open and welcoming personality, he had a wide circle of acquaintances, which enabled him to bring interesting individuals to speak to his pupils,” a spokesman said.

As well as teaching Mr Nicolai was responsible for the school’s exchange programme seeing setting up links with 14 state and private schools including those in French, Japanese and Swedish.

Colleagues described Mr Nicolai, as a larger than life character who radiated warmth and openness to fellow teachers and pupils.

The spokesman added: “Our heartfelt sympathies and prayers go to his wife and his two sons, of whom he was so proud.”

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