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School's tribute to Karis, a year on
8:20am Saturday 7th April 2012 in News
FAMILY, friends and teachers gathered to pay tribute to an “inspirational” 12-year-old girl, a year after she died tragically.
Karis May Darling, an aspiring actress and singer who attended Gable Hall School, Corringham, died on April 4 last year from the streptococcus A bug.
In a moving ceremony on Friday, Karis’s father John, five friends and Gable Hall headteacher Dr Sophia Asong led the tributes as a congregation gathered around a cherry tree, planted to commemorate a year since Karis passed away.
John told the Gazette that a year on, the family are still in shock, adding it is yet to sink in that they will never see her again.
Speaking first, Dr Asong said: “This is a small way of remembering a very special person.
“Karis, though no longer with us, has helped students find spirituality and helped to create a sense of togetherness at the school.
“We thank God for the gift of Karis.”
Fighting back tears, Connor Allen, a close friend of Karis and pupil at Gable Hall, said: “It has been one of the hardest years without Karis. She was such an inspiration, someone who brought fun and laughter.”
In an emotional address, John said: “I can’t believe it has been a year since we last saw Karis. She was a smashing kid, a one off.
“It is fitting that the tree is planted here. This is Karis’ place of education and where she developed.
“This tree will be a symbol of Karis. Hopefully it will grow strong and blossom, just as Karis did.”
In the background, between speeches, a compilation CD, recorded by the Karis Angels played.
The choir forms part of the Karis May Darling Foundation, set up shortly after Karis died. John hopes the foundation, which has raised £90,000 in the last eight months, can fund the building of a youth centre in the area.
The foundation has also supported talented Stanford-Le-Hope 400m runner, Hayley Mclean, who is competing in the World Youth Games as well as sponsoring local football clubs.