School dedicates 'haven' to Ava

A LITTLE girl from Antrim is to be permanently remembered by her primary school with a ‘safe haven’ memorial space for pupils.

Ava Byrne, then aged eight, was diagnosed as having a rare type of tumour in 2018.

The growth in her spinal cord at her neck prevented some of her limbs from working and she underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy and an 11-hour operation, which removed 95 per cent of the mass.

However, the aggressive tumour returned and she sadly passed away in 2019.

There was an outpouring of grief and Ava’s family, friends and the community threw themselves into fundraising in her memory.

In recent weeks, Ava’s family and staff from St Comgall’s Primary School, which Ava attended, came together for the blessing and the dedication of the ‘hAVAn’ space.

Mrs Murphy, Ava’s classroom assistant, lit a candle to represent the light Ava was in the lives of everyone present that afternoon at the service.

The prayer and dedication was led by Fr Emerson who is Chair of Governors in St Comgall’s and also Chaplain to the school.

After listening to one of Ava’s favourite song, the family and staff of the school prayed for her as they remembered her amazing smile and zest for life and learning.

The gathered group prayed for her and remembered her love of life and learning.

Jim Matthews, Principal of the school said: “It is hoped that having a central space in school to remember Ava, means that anyone in the school will be able to use the hAVAn as a place of great discovery, adventure, creativity and calm.

“Having Ava’s name central to the word hAVAn will remind us that Ava will always be part of our school family.”

The decoration of the hAVAn is specific to the memory of Ava, with a swirl of blue sparkly stars with words that Ava used a lot with her parents – a good lesson for everyone, “Always love to the moon and back….”

Surrounding the hAVAn are sunflowers which represent one of the best known and loved pictures of Ava, in a field of sunflowers.

Bluebells have been added to the graphics as they are a flower of Ava’s favorite colour.

Butterflies and dragonflies represent a period of change and the décor of Ava’s room in the NI Children’s Hospice.

Along with Mrs O’Donnell, Ava’s friends painted the trellising and have planted blue plants which will grow every year in her memory.

The school is very thankful to the ‘Links to Pink’ charity who have sponsored the decoration of the memory space for Ava.

Mr Matthews said: “As our sign says, we will use the space to remember and say a prayer for our friend Ava. We miss her.”

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