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Kayaker ‘killed by pirates’ was former assistant head at school for deaf children

Emma Kelty campaigned on behalf of the Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children

22 September, 2017 — By Richard Osley

Emma Kelty

TRIBUTES have been paid to a former teacher killed by suspected river pirates in Brazil after she gave up a career in education to travel the world.

Emma Kelty, 43, was the former assistant headteacher of Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children when it was based in Swiss Cottage. She had worked on the “thumbs up for Frank Barnes” campaign when the future of the school was uncertain before its move to a new site in King’s Cross.

Police in Brazil have held three men after Ms Kelty went missing while kayaking solo in the Amazon River, near Coari, last Wednesday. Officers said she had been shot before her body was dumped in the river. The killers and their associates are then thought to have tried to sell her phone, tablet and Go-Pro camera equipment.

Her siblings, brothers Piers and Giles and sister Natasha, said in a statement: “Emma was an active and determined sister who challenged herself, latterly through her adventures on the Pacific Coast Trail, as well as in the South Pole and Amazon River. In a world that is today a much smaller place, the explorer in our sister found herself seeking ways to prove that challenges were achievable. We are extremely proud of our sister who was dearly loved by us all and her strength will be sorely missed.”

Ms Kelty, who went on to work for a school in Surbiton after leaving Frank Barnes, had left messages on social media in which she suggested she was aware of the danger on the river, posting: “So in or near Coari I will have my boat stolen and I will be killed too. Nice.” In other messages, she said she had seen men on the river with “arrows and rifles”.

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