A primary school teacher has been found dead just days before he was due to star in a much-anticipated stage show at the King’s Theatre.
Mark Hewitt’s body was discovered at a property in the Pleasance on Friday in what police have described as an “unexplained” death.
The 25-year-old – who taught at Sciennes Primary School – was due to perform in Titanic when its run gets under way at the flagship theatre tonight.
Friends and fellow performers at drama group the Southern Light Opera Company, as well as teachers at the school, have been left stunned by Mr Hewitt’s death.
Fiona MacFarlane, from the amateur dramatics company, said: “Mark was very excited about portraying Third Officer Herbert Pitman in the production.
“Although Mark was only with the Southern Light for a short time it can be said that he touched the lives of every member of the company.
“He brought fun, humour and energy to rehearsals and will be greatly missed on stage.
“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”
Tributes were left on social media from as far afield as New York, where it is believed Mr Hewitt lived for a spell while studying at the university.
Known to friends as “Sparky”, he graduated from Edinburgh University with a primary teaching degree in 2013 and had been teaching primary-five pupils at Sciennes.
Alison Noble, head teacher at Sciennes Primary School, said: “Everyone in the Sciennes School community has been shocked and deeply saddened to hear about Mark’s sudden death.
“Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time. He was a very popular teacher and the children and staff will miss him dearly.
“Support is in place and will continue for our children and staff.”
Mr Hewitt was also a member of the South Morningside Explorer Scout Unit (SMESU), which described him as “positive, fun and energetic” in a heartfelt tribute.
He embarked on explorations as a Scout leader and performed at their Christmas concerts.
In a statement, the SMESU, said: “The SMESU Explorers and Leaders will work together over the next few weeks to remember, honour, and recognise Mark’s service to the unit and Scouting. He committed his life to supporting children and young people through his teaching, Scouting and extensive youth work.”
Matthew O’Hagan, a fellow Titanic performer, paid tribute to Mark on Facebook.
He wrote: “I didn’t know Mark for that long but with a smile like his you feel as if you should have done.
“As the show embarks into the dark side of the story of the Titanic, Mark and I save an infant child and carry her off to the life boats.
“Now, this week, I will have to do this alone, each time never forgetting the man that meant so much to me.” Police confirmed they were investigating the death.
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “Police in Edinburgh are investigating the death of a 25-year-old man after his body was discovered at an address in the Pleasance. The death is currently being treated as unexplained at this time.
“A report has now been sent to Procurator Fiscal.”