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Upminster school to create memorial garden for 10-year-old who died in freak accident 50 years ago

PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 June 2018 | UPDATED: 07:10 26 June 2018

Richard White'’s grave at the Church of St Lawrence both before and after it had been restored. Photo: Mike Jones

Richard White''s grave at the Church of St Lawrence both before and after it had been restored. Photo: Mike Jones

Mike Jones

Back in 1967 Richard White, of Waldegrave Gardens, was killed when a pavilion flipped over in heavy winds. Now fellow pupil - Mike Jones - has raised more than £500 which will be used to make sure his story is not forgotten.

Mike Jones pictured with the grave he has crowd funded to clean up and repair.Mike Jones pictured with the grave he has crowd funded to clean up and repair.

An Upminster school is to create a memorial garden for a 10-year-old student who died in a freak accident 50 years ago.

Money raised from a crowdfunding page set up by film-maker Mike Jones will be used to buy plants and flowers for the garden that will be called the “Richard White memorial garden”.

Back in 1967 Richard White, of Waldegrave Gardens, was killed when a pavilion flipped over in heavy winds. Now fellow pupil - Mike Jones - has raised more than £500 which will be used to make sure his story is not forgotten.

Mike was at first trying to raise the money to restore Richard’s grave at the Church of St Lawrence, but an “overwhelming” amount of support from friends, other ex-pupils and complete strangers has meant they have restored his grave for free, and have £530 to put towards a memorial garden.

Coverage of the tragic death of Richard White in the Havering Recorder at the time. Photo: Mike Jones.Coverage of the tragic death of Richard White in the Havering Recorder at the time. Photo: Mike Jones.

Three different masons contacted Mike and said that they wanted to help restore the grave, and after meetings with his former school, plans have been made to create a memorial garden.

Mike said: “The support has been fantastic.
“All I wanted to do at first was restore the grave but we have had an incredible response from people all over.

“Lots of people read the article and were touched by it and wanted to donate.

“We’re hoping to have a small service at Richard’s grave at the end of July.”

Mike Jones at St Laurence Church, Corbetts Tey Road, Upminster.Mike Jones at St Laurence Church, Corbetts Tey Road, Upminster.

He said that the school has told him that work on the memorial garden will begin over the summer when the school is closed.

Classmates of Richard’s have never forgotten what happened 50 years ago at Upminster Junior School.

Richard, who was described as a “cheerful boy”, was playing football on the school field when the weather took a turn for the worse and his teacher, Mr Stafford, told the boys to head for shelter.

Richard got to the pavilion first, but then a strong gust of wind hit the building, turning it on its back. The 10-year-old was thrown into the air and died of his injuries.

One of Richard’s close friends, Neil McEwan, said that he was the first person to run over to him after the accident and said: “It is tragic that it has taken this long for something to be done, but well done to Mike for doing it.

“He was a lovely lad, he will never be forgotten.”

Another schoolmate, Richard Goad, commented on Mike’s fundraising page and said: “I often think of Richard and that fateful day, the death of a young friend who undoubtedly would have gone on to achieve so much.”

Alison Edgecombe, headteacher at Upminster Junior School said it was “lovely” to hear of the fundraising and said: “Our school is very much heart of the Upminster community – many of our pupils’ parents attended here, and so did many of their parents – so I am sure that Richard is remembered by them.”

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