A SIX-year-old girl from the York area has died of meningitis, it was revealed today.

The girl was named locally as Ellie Vaux, of Sheriff Hutton, who was a pupil at Terrington Hall Preparatory School.

She was taken to York Hospital the day after performing in the end-of-term summer concert.

A man at Ellie's family home declined to comment when approached today.

Devastated head teacher Jon Glen, whose 208 pupils are aged between three and 13, said the girl had apparently felt "a bit sick" on Friday, but it did not appear to be anything serious.

He was later informed that the girl was seriously ill in hospital on Saturday night, and had died early on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for the North Yorkshire Health Protection Unit (NYHPU) said it had contacted parents and carers of children attending the school, at Terrington, near Malton, following the death.

"The pupil sadly died from a suspected infection caused by the meningococcus bacteria following treatment at York Hospital and Sheffield Hospital," she said.

"Although the risk to other children at the school is very small, parents and carers are being contacted through the head teacher. The school has now closed for the holidays."

"It's an absolute tragedy," said Mr Glen, who plans to name the Meningitis Research Foundation as the school's designated charity after the summer holidays.

"She was a delightful, bubbly, friendly little girl.

"This is the most tragic situation I've ever come across in my career.

"I wrote to all the parents on Monday morning to reassure them. As a school, we will do some sort of tribute at the start of the next academic year."

Mr Glen said the girl had an older brother, who was also a pupil at Terrington Hall.

The spokeswoman said that brief contact, such as that experienced within schools, did not put other children at greater risk, but it was always sensible for people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis.

Updated: 10:17 Friday, July 16, 2004