NEWS of the tragic death of Guiting Power teenager Jake Gardner was broken to many for the first time at church.
The Reverend Canon Veronica James began a poignant service for the bereaved, already pre-planned, with prayers for the 19-year-old who lost his life early on Monday night in a road collision.
Speaking after the Tuesday night service, churchwarden Mike Edwards said: "Jake was the focal point. Our vicar started the evening by announcing it because a lot of the village didn't know. We said prayers for him straight away and she wanted him to be in people's minds. We are a village in mourning. There's a feeling of numbness and disbelief – it's hard to take in."
With a passion for farming, Jake had followed his dreams to gain his diploma in agriculture from Hartpury College last year. He had started his own business Jake Gardner Agriculture. Farming was in his blood, as his dad Simon, works for Guiting Manor Farms. Friends at the Cotswold School, Bourton-on-the-Water, where Jake was a former pupil, said he was enjoying his new career.
Paying tribute, principal Will Morgan said: "The Cotswold School is in shock at the news of the death of Jake Gardner. He was a popular and well-liked pupil, described by his friends as a 'gentle giant'.
"Jake had a wide circle of friends – evident in the impact that this terrible news has had amongst the pupils and staff. All his friends commented on how Jake had 'settled down', was enjoying his work and was making the most of his opportunities."
Teachers Matt and Suzanne Smith were pleased to bump into Jake at the Three Counties Show recently. "He was his usual polite, friendly self when we saw him," said Mr Smith.
"At school, Jake was in his element in the design and technology department – always keen. He was one of those loveable characters that, as a teacher, one always remembers fondly. My wife taught Jake English throughout his time at the school. We were deeply saddened to hear the news."
Jake leaves parents Simon and Jenny and a sister, Holly.
Jake's green Ford Fiesta was involved in a collision with a green Land Rover Freelander at about 6.45pm on Monday. Police are calling for witnesses to the incident on the B4077, near the crossroads to Bourton-on-the-Hill.