A 12-year-old boy has died while on an organised school activity trip.

Police announced today that James Todd, of St Paul's Drive, Houghton-le-Spring, Tyne and Wear, was on a trip to Belford, near Berwick, when the tragedy happened on Thursday evening.

Northumbria Police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.

A spokesman said: "We can confirm a 12-year-old boy died last night.

"He was at an outdoor centre on a school trip in Belford, near Berwick.

"The group had been out canoeing for the day and on their return the boy did not come down for tea and was found in his dormitory."

Police said his family was "deeply distressed".

Richard Wilkinson said that despite the efforts of trained first-aiders, a local GP and then paramedics the youngster could not be revived after being discovered lying on his bunk in a dormitory of the outdoor centre.

Mr Wilkinson said it was understood the boy had died of natural causes but could not add any other information about the actual cause.

He confirmed that the boy had suffered from a medical condition dating back years but was not aware of any current medical condition.

The school head said that 28 children and three staff had been on the two-day outdoor activity expedition, which left the school, in Washington, on the outskirts of Sunderland, on Wednesday, for the 90-minute drive to Belford.

Following their return to the school last night the children were told they need not attend today.

Speaking at the school, Mr Wilkinson told reporters: "The school is trying to maintain as much normality as possible.

"We are a community, a family if you like, and will work together at it over weeks and months to make sure we come through stronger and better.

"We have yet to look at the day in great detail but when we get time alone as a school we will go through every detail."

Mr Wilkinson revealed that a planned residential trip to France, due to leave last night, had been cancelled in the wake of the tragedy.

The possibility of further trips to the Northumberland activity centre will be discussed next week, he added.

Biddick School was granted specialist sports college status in 1997 and that was renewed for a further three years in September 2001.

It recently received a glowing Ofsted report which labelled it "a beacon of community sports development".