HEARTBROKEN friends and colleagues of Robert Sebbage have been paying tribute to the popular 18-year-old.

The Calleva Arms, where Robert worked for two years, is flying its Union flag at half-mast in his memory.

Owners Simon and Sharon Bumpstead were shocked after hearing the news of Robert’s death from his father Andrew last Wednesday.

Simon, 52, said: “You just don’t expect something like this to happen to someone you know, especially to someone so young.”

Sharon, 47, added: “He was a lovely person to be around – hard-working and always happy. Nothing was too much trouble for him.”

Staff at the pub, in Pamber Road, Silchester, are still reeling from the news of Robert’s death.

Matthew Trott knew Robert from when they both attended The Hurst Community College, in Baughurst, before working alongside each other in The Calleva Arms bar.

The 20-year-old said Robert had been talking about taking a gap year before deciding what to do in the future.

Matthew, from The Green, Tadley, said: “I saw him the night before he went on holiday and he was talking about how much he was looking forward to going away. He loved his football and was a big music fan. He was at the Isle of Wight festival just a few weeks ago.”

A collection has been started at the pub for the Great Ormond Street Hospital children’s charity, which supported Robert, who had battled a rare bowel disorder, when he was younger. Staff and regulars are also hoping to hold a memorial football match.

Pupils and staff at The Hurst Community College, held a minute’s silence in tribute to Robert at 9.30am last Friday.

Headteacher Malcolm Christian described the mood of the school on Friday as sombre. A book of condolence has been opened and there will be a minute’s applause in Robert’s memory at the start of the school’s Sports Awards on Thursday evening.

Staff at Queen Mary’s College, in Basingstoke, where Robert recently took his A-levels in English language, media studies and sociology, have also paid tribute to him.

Deputy principal Ali Foss said: “His maturity and commitment to his studies were coupled with a determination to succeed, in spite of many of the challenges that he faced on a daily basis. Rob was always friendly, polite and sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of those around him.” Thousands of tributes to the teenager have been flooding in on Facebook, from friends, acquaintances and strangers paying their respects.

Tim Nicholls, who was on holiday with Robert in Zante, paid his respects through Facebook page R.I.P Robert Sebbage.

He wrote: “Not only a friend but part of my life. You were genuinely the nicest person I know with not a single bad word to say. You will always be in my heart and will never be forgotten. One word…Hero. Xxxx”

Sandie Jones wrote: “I remember teaching Robert at Bishopswood School. Not fair, why the gentlest of people are taken first. Tadley is missing an angel tonight.”

Robert’s favourite football club, Reading FC, also left a message of condolence.