A Chigwell School has opened a garden area in memory of a former pupil who later returned as a teacher and died of cancer.

Jenna Wilkins, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 21 and died aged 25, had studied at West Hatch High School. 

After university she returned to the school to work as Learning Support Assistant with the ambition to qualify as an English teacher.

The garden- which features raised flower beds, a water feature containing decorated pebbles, murals and a bench- has been named ‘Jenna’s Garden.’

Members of Jenna's family, her school friends and West Hatch staff gathered for the ribbon cutting on Wednesday.

Jenna's mother, Julie, said: "We've created a great place where kids can sit and reflect and relax. Jenna would love it. She would love her name to be up on the wall!"

She added: "Jenna was larger than life. Whenever Jenna was in the room, everybody loved her. She was the life and soul of the party."

The Jenna Wilkins Foundation who funded the garden is working on providing a sensory room at Whitebridge School and has funded books for a reading club at West Hatch.

The Foundation has raised money through a series of brunches across Essex and locally and has also received corporate donations.

West Hatch High School headteacher Daniel Leonard, speaking at the garden opening, said: "Jenna was a really special young lady. She had an absolute heart of gold and in her short time with us she made a huge impression on the students and staff alike.

"Jenna's Garden is a fitting memorial for her."