THE parents of a South Tyneside schoolboy who died on a school expedition to Africa are still waiting to find out what killed him.
Jack Burden, aged 18, died from a severe allergic reaction while on a trip to Tanzania with fellow pupils from Harton Technology College, South Shields.
It is not yet known what Jack suffered a reaction to, meaning his parents, Steven and Alison Burden, who is headteacher at the Marine Park Primary School in South Shields, still don’t know exactly what happened to the teenager.
Speaking from the family home in Midhurst Avenue, Harton, South Shields, yesterday, Mr Burden said: “We don’t know what it was he had a reaction to yet. We’re just waiting for the travel company to tell us what it was.”
Jack has a 16-year-old sister, Sarah.
Jack was in East Africa with expedition company True Adventure when the tragedy happened on Tuesday.
He was on an expedition with his classmates, working to build sports facilities at a school.
Despite receiving immediate first aid and treatment with EpiPens – an emergency treatment for anaphylaxis – he could not be resuscitated.
It has emerged that Jack was part of a team of 10 teenagers, two college staff and one expedition leader, who were on the 19th day of a 28-day expedition, trekking in the Uluguru region of southern Tanzania and working on a charity project.
Bosses at True Adventure say they are now working with airlines to bring all team members back home as soon as possible and will continue to provide support through specialist trauma counsellors.
Dan Trueman, managing director of True Adventure, said: “We are fully committed to supporting all those involved as best we can and have specialist trauma counsellors available while also working to gather the facts so we can understand exactly what happened.
“I cannot stress how impressed we have been by the resilience, determination and bravery shown by all members of the expedition team in the aftermath of this incident. They have been a great credit to their families and their college.”
Harton Technology College headteacher, Sir Ken Gibson, paid tribute to an “incredibly popular and likeable young man”.
He said: “The whole school community has been devastated by the awful news which unfolded on Tuesday evening about Jack Burden, one of our sixth form students.
“Jack was an incredibly popular and likeable young man who possessed a very sharp sense of humour.
“He never had a bad word to say about anyone and had a genuinely caring, thoughtful and lovely manner.
“He was very sporty and had a number of close friends through his football and cricket exploits.
“I have read many of the tributes to Jack and they certainly confirm just how well respected, admired and loved he was by everyone.
“I know that the family has been inundated with cards, messages and visitors, and my thoughts remain with them and Jack’s close friends at this very difficult time.”
He added: “Jack was a very talented and bright young man who had intended to study English literature and education at Liverpool Hope University from September.
Jack also played football for South Shields-based Mortimer FC.
Coach, Kris Wallace said: “Jack was a fantastic young man with such a bright future ahead of him.
“He’d always give you his all on the football field and would never let any of his team-mates down. His parents couldn’t have raised a more polite man.
“He will be missed by everyone who had the pleasure of crossing paths with him.”