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Croydon school marks anniversary of Daniel Spargo-Mabbs' death with moving balloon release


AT 12.50pm on Tuesday students at Archbishop Tenison's school released dozens of balloons into the sky to mark exactly a year since the death of their friend and classmate Daniel Spargo-Mabbs.

Tied to each ribbon was a message of condolence and the contact details for the drug awareness foundation set up in the 16-year-old's name.

Daniel collapsed at an illegal rave after drinking ecstasy mixed into a bottle of water and died in hospital three days later on January 20, 2014.

His family, who spent the day in private mourning, were touched his friends had chosen to include the work of The Daniel Spargo-Mabbs Foundation in the memorial.

"They asked us to come to the balloon release, and we love to do things with the school, but we felt we needed to be together as a family, and I knew I needed private space," said his mother Fiona.

"I watched the video of it on their website. They had put the song Brandon Billy [a student] sang for the foundation over the top of it. It was really moving, really lovely that they did that."

Archbishop Tenison's CE High School, in Selborne Road, held a midday prayer with students shortly before they made their way to the playground to release the green balloons.

Emmanuel Church in Normanton Road, South Croydon, was open all day to allow visitors to light a candle in Daniel's memory. The church hosted a remembrance service later that evening for Fiona and her husband Tim, Daniel's brother Jacob, and their wider family and friends.

Friends and classmates of Daniel Spargo-Mabbs release balloons into the sky to mark a year since his death

"Tuesday was about the loss of Dan," said Fiona. "It was a day of complete mourning.

"We've now begun year 2. Life goes on. That there has been such a commitment to stopping this from happening to anyone else, and that they are doing it Dan's name, has helped.

"We're doing what we wish we could have done for Dan. There's a lot of energy behind wanting to make the difference we could have made for him if we had known."

Head teacher Richard Parrish was full of praise for how students had coped with the tragedy

Richard Parrish, head teacher at Archbishop Tenison's, said students wanted to celebrate Daniel's life after a difficult year.

"They suggested the balloons because they wanted to do something to mark the moment Daniel died," he explained.

"There was a period of silence and then the balloons disappeared off into the sky. It was a very powerful moment.

"As they floated away, pupils on the courts playing football stopped and gave a round of applause. It was lovely."

The balloons were attached to messages promoting the work of The Daniel Spargo-Mabbs Foundation

Next week a tree will be planted in the school grounds as a lasting memorial and, later this year, students will take part in a fundraising event for the foundation. Mr Parrish is proud of how they have dealt with the tragedy.

"I think they have coped amazingly, but it has been really difficult," he said.

"Like all grief it comes and goes. They have very difficult days and we will have more of them.

"The grief was very raw last year, but Tuesday was more of a celebration of Daniel's life."

Mrs Spargo-Mabbs said: "We've been blessed with so much support from so many people. I don't know how we would have coped without them."

The service began with a midday prayer in memory of Daniel

A play based on Daniel's life, commissioned by the foundation to raise awareness of the dangers of drugs, is being written and is due to premiere in March 2016. The charity is also working on a teaching package to help spread its message in classrooms.

Nicqueel Pitrora, 18, was jailed for five years in August for supplying the drugs which killed Daniel. An inquest into his death will be held at West London Coroner's Court on February 12.

Croydon school marks anniversary of Daniel Spargo-Mabbs' death with moving balloon release

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