I am writing this as I reflect on a day that has brought so much sadness, yet I feel an overwhelming sense of pride in our school and our boys and girls. On Thursday 24th May the school came together to pay their final respects to Charlotte who tragically passed away on the 10th May. Over 300 staff and students joined her family and friends at a beautiful service that was held at St Martin’s Church in Barton.
During the service Charlotte’s mum, Miss Mitchell, paid a beautiful and inspiring tribute to her daughter. Spontaneous applause broke out when she spoke of how Charlotte has helped to change the lives of 17 people, through organ donation.
After the service we all followed the cortege on the road to her final resting place at Torquay Cemetery where a small blessing was held at her gravesite.
Everyone who attended the funeral had written a message to Charlotte on paper that was infused with flower seeds. These messages were tied to biodegradable balloons and there was an amazing sight as 400 multi-coloured balloons were simultaneously released.
As Charlotte’s funeral cortege travelled from her home to St Martin’s church over 1,000 students and staff lined Newton Road as a mark of respect and in a demonstration of support for her family and friends. Students and staff stood in impeccable silence as the horse and carriage passed by; it was an incredibly moving moment as the only sound that could be heard, on what is usually such a busy road, was the horses’ hooves on the road. I have been spoken to my many people who witnessed this tribute who described it as both very touching and appropriate.
Charlotte was a very enthusiastic member of our Performing Arts Academy; it is a group of 30 children who had successfully auditioned for a place on the programme. She, along with the rest of the Performing Arts Academy, had been rehearsing this year for the school’s production of Guys and Dolls. The show ran this week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
Charlotte loved to be part of a team or family – which is why she found being part of the Performing Arts Academy so enjoyable. She had been cast to perform in our Guys and Dolls production; she said to her Mum that not being able to take part “makes me very sad”. This epitomises her love, enthusiasm and commitment to the Performing Arts Academy and her fellow students and staff.
Charlotte’s favourite song from the show is Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat. On the opening night, Charlotte’s Mum came to watch the show. For the encore the cast delivered an emotional speech for Charlotte which was followed by an incredible performance of Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.
Our Guys and Dolls production was dedicated to the memory of Charlotte and all of the money from ticket sales, profits from sweets and donations made will be passed onto The Brain Tumour Charity. I am delighted to be able to report that £530 was raised.
One of Charlotte’s favourite bands is Little Mix. Charlotte recently said that whilst she had never had a boyfriend, when she did get one who would then inevitably become an ex-boyfriend, she would sing Little Mix’s lyrics: “Shout out to my ex, I really am the best!”. This not only demonstrates Charlotte’s lovely sense of humour, but also what a strong young lady she was developing into. She couldn’t understand why anyone would want, or should have the right, to hurt somebody else’s feelings or made them feel sad. Charlotte had very strong feelings of what was right and wrong.
Charlotte’s mum says “she was a very loving and perfect daughter and, along with her nanny, she was my very best friend, as I was hers”.
Charlotte’s friends have been writing their memories of her that we will compile into a memories book for her mum. One of her friends wrote “She was always positive and was one of the few people that kept me going. It never mattered what someone had done, she’d always see the best in them and even if she didn’t know how to help she’d always be there to listen. We could all learn something from Charlotte, even if it just meant being a little more positive, we need more people like her.” Another wrote “I remember how amazing she was and how beautiful she was.”
Personally, I will remember Charlotte as a happy, incredibly polite and determined young lady. Everyone who speaks to me about her only has the nicest things to say. I have had the privilege of reading the memories of Charlotte written by her friends. Whilst I was showing these to Mrs Watling she said to me that “Charlotte really was just an angel”. I couldn’t agree more.