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News > Obituaries > Matthew Kiran Burke (NH, 2018)

Matthew Kiran Burke (NH, 2018)

Matt Burke died on 24 November 2023, aged 23. The following tributes have been written by Matt’s mother Sunita, sister Jess, and his friends and College teachers.
24 Nov 2023

Matt Burke died on 24 November 2023, aged 23. The following tributes have been written by Matt’s mother Sunita, sister Jess, and his friends and College teachers.

Matt was born in Cheltenham on 21 Feb 2000. He was a very kind and caring child and grew up to be the same. He was bright, witty and had a dry sense of humour, but Matt was not always easy to understand and did not always fit the norm. He could be a bit awkward, disorganised, funny and very much had his own routine which included showers late in the evening and rushed breakfasts.

He was very clever and very good at looking at small detail and figuring things out by himself. He was one of only two who completed his Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award during his A Levels. I admired at the strength of character he portrayed and his determination to complete the task and not give up. Another example of his determination was when he was in junior school. He was in set 1 but not the scholarship set but this made him determined to get A*s in his Maths and Sciences. Needless to say, he put his mind to learn the syllabus and achieved those grades.

Matt wanted to be successful in life and earn money. I’m not sure why he was focussed on going into the City. I thought he was more of a research type, but I could not change his mind on that! In my view Matt was a very successful human being. He always saw more than anybody. He felt more than anybody. If we had more people like him, we would be better off. 

He spent a lot of time in the Art room and was fascinated by tall buildings which was the theme for his GCSE project. He was fluent in Spanish and could converse like a native. I always wondered how he could do that. 

Matt was good at sport too and enjoyed squash and diving and won several medals at County level.  

Despite all of this Matt’s life was hard for him. He couldn’t flourish at university the way he could at College. Maybe the support system was not there. He was not the type to admit he was not OK or needed help. 

Matt had an accident in the first year of university and separation from his family and then Covid affected his mental health. He didn’t recover and his health deteriorated despite his determination to go back to how he was at College.

I am very fortunate that I had 23 wonderful years with him. He achieved more in his short life than many people do in a very long life. 

My brother was an amazing human being. Even from a very young age he put me first. He was one of a kind with a unique sense of humour. 

In my first year of university, I went downstairs to collect a delivery and there were 30 blocks of red Leicester cheese for me. I had never tried it before, but it became my favourite type of cheese. It didn’t say who it was from. It took a few phone calls to find out who sent me this outrageous gift, and I vividly remember the woman from Tesco burst out laughing. Everyone in my flat was blown out of their minds to see so much cheese in one place. I eventually got to the bottom of this, and the sender was M. Burke – typical! 

Matt was obsessed with Pokeman and spent hours playing and watching it. Some of his sketches and paintings had the names for characters we made up together, Mousey, Ludi, Pasta….We came up with a secret language that involved saying and spelling out different Pokemon which didn’t really make much sense, but was fun to confuse our parents.

Friends and College teachers
Matt was always lovely to everyone, and I liked him very much. 

During his time at College, he was kind considerate and gentle, if ever one of the younger pupils were struggling, he would be the first there with his arm around their shoulder, a kind word and reassurance. 

Even when he was ill, he was the same man deep inside. He was pleased to see me. We had a long chat, or should I say debate! When I left, he gave me a very long and gentle hug. I was beginning to think he wouldn’t let go. He had grown so tall that I only came up to his chest. 

When I picture Matthew, I see a tall dark man with lovely dark hair eating a chocolate brownie and debating a wide range of subjects. 

He was a special individual bright and funny, and easy to get on with. Life did not treat him well, but he never turned his back on his friends, and he felt like we hadn’t either. I always regretted not seeing him more after College and not staying in touch as much as I would have liked. 

He will always be the young person who loved Biology and would walk into my laboratory with a wide, beaming smile and with a shake of the head exclaim to me ‘I’m sorry, I’ve left my prep in House’. With that lovely smile how could I ever not believe him. He will always be the young man with a voracious appetite for knowledge, who would see links with the topics, no matter how small and how tenuous. 

Matt would be a man who would stop by for a chat and spend the next half hour telling me about an article he had read which had caught his eye. 

Above all else, Matthew will forever be etched in my memory for his kindness and caring nature and never forgetting to say ‘How are you, Mrs Mech?’ I am so thankful that my memories of Matthew are of a young man who only ever say the good in people and who himself, was a genuinely lovely man. 

Matthew was a hugely kind-hearted young man who would always go out of his way to help others. He has a mischievous sense of humour and a quick wit. Matthew was particularly popular among younger students due to his gentle nature and inclusive manner. 

Matthew was a gentle soul, who had a wry sense of humour and a genuine interest and passion for Biology. He always gave his best in lessons. He loved quiet debate and asked penetrating questions to develop his understanding and sometimes keep us on our toes, but in the nicest possible way. 

His fondness for certain teachers was evident in his warm, sensitive and enthusiastic approach and he enjoyed his lessons although not always his homework.

Organisation was not his strong point, he often forgot things he needed, but his excuses were a delight and often demonstrated a real flair for creativity, delivered with a wry smile and genuine apology. He was respected and well-regarded by his classmates, and loved the banter that could develop in a lesson, enjoying people’s humour and sense of fun. 

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