18 September 2017
We are very sorry to announce the death of our much loved former Senior Tutor, Dr Leigh Stoeber. Dr Stoeber passed away peacefully in her sleep on Thursday 14 September in the Arthur Rank Charity Hospice in Cambridge. Tributes have been pouring in after the news was sent out to Fellows, staff, students and alumnae.
Dr Stoeber, or “Leigh” as she was called by everyone, joined Lucy Cavendish in 2014, but was quickly diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a gruelling course of chemotherapy, but returned to Lucy in 2015, having been given the all clear. Her energy and enthusiasm made her immediately popular with students and she set about improving the College’s provision for mental health problems. Determined that no student should feel at sea when first arriving at Lucy, Leigh transformed our induction procedures, with “pizza and jazz” and “blues and schmooze” evenings, to bring the new arrivals together. She also introduced seminars on essay writing, time planning, revision and the acclaimed “take a break” sessions during the examination periods – all designed to help students understand and cope with the rigours of a Cambridge education.
Leigh dealt with countless issues with a ready smile and an endless supply of chocolates. Although she was juggling her demanding job with a young family, she always had time for her students as Lucy and often worked extremely long days. From the induction treasure hunt she organised to our annual Halloween dinner, Leigh threw herself into college life with infectious good humour.
In February of this year, Leigh was sent for further scans after suffering neck pain. She then received the devastating news that the metastatic cancer had spread. Leigh resigned as Senior Tutor while she underwent several more months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but retained a passionate interest in the students at Lucy. She was delighted to see our exam results this summer, when the College rose eight places in the Tompkins table.
During a break from her treatment in July, Leigh and her family went on a carefree, joyous and unexpectedly sunny family holiday in the Scottish highlands. It was a blissful time for her, a short respite from the draining chemotherapy. Shortly afterwards, Leigh’s disease took a turn for the worse and left her too unwell to say her goodbyes to the Lucy Cavendish community. Through her family, she wanted to thank those in College who she got to know well and grew close to, for their warmth, kindness and friendship.
Leigh was a life-enhancer and leaves a big hole in the lives of many of us at Lucy Cavendish. Two of our students summed it up like this:
“She has been my favourite College Fellow and the person who was always there for me; I absolutely adored her.”
“Leigh was more than a Senior Tutor to us, she was a friend on hard days, a reviewer of my protocols, a sparkle when we needed inspiration and a human who understood that while we strived for academic success, we had lives and families and that these were the most important things, not to be forgotten or ever taken for granted.”
We will be arranging a fitting memorial for Leigh in due course, but for now send our deepest condolences to her husband, Kai, and their two young sons. Leigh will be sorely missed by us all.
President, Lucy Cavendish College