TWO former teachers of an Erith schoolgirl killed in an unsolved hit and run incident have paid tribute to a girl who had “everything to live for”.

Erith School pupil Gemma Rolfe lost her life after the car she was travelling in with stepfather Dean Robey was hit by a stolen van in Slade Green Road, near the junction with Canada Road, Slade Green, on May 19, 2003.

The 12-year-old died at the scene after the driver of the van fled the accident and no-one has been charged in connection with her death.

In the run-up to the 10th anniversary of the tragedy, Simon Price-Whittle and Stuart Bryce have been remembering the smart, sporty young girl they knew.

Gemma’s former deputy-head Mr Price-Whittle, 63, told News Shopper: “She was a girl who had everything to live for who was tragically struck down and it’s an open-ended story that needs closure.”

The father-of-two says he first got to know Gemma on a school trip to the Isle of Wight just three months before she died.

The retired teacher says he knew the 12-year-old was “going to go a long way” when she conquered her fear of heights by leaping off a telephone poll as part of a high wire course.

He said: “She had to make a leap of faith and jump on the trapeze and then be lowered down to the ground slowly.

“She was scared to death but she did it and when she came down she was so proud of herself.

“She was a bright child who was going to go on to university and she’s a very real and live person to me even in my memory.”

The Bexleyheath resident added: “I am still as angry as I was then that the person hasn’t been caught and justice hasn’t been done in Gemma’s name.”

News Shopper: Memorial bench.

The inscription on Gemma's memorial bench.

Mr Bryce is now vice principal at Erith School and was Gemma’s head of year at the time she was killed.

The 43-year-old said: “Gemma always had a smile on her face and was very happy-go-lucky.

“She was very articulate and mature for her age and a pleasure to be around.”

Following Gemma’s death, the PE teacher says two of her classmates expressed their feelings for their lost friend using the letters of her name:

G – great at everything

E – excellent friends

M – mature in every way

M – good mate

A – absolutely a great mate.

The Welling resident added: “It’s a tragic loss and a life taken far too early.

“Gemma had huge potential and I’m sure she would have gone on to great things.”

Coming soon: former News Shopper reporter Linda Piper’s thoughts on the guilty person still escaping justice.