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Bury St Edmunds: County Upper School sixth form play raises cash in memory of Gareth Barham

12:00 15 January 2014

Gareth Barham at his graduation.

Gareth Barham at his graduation.


A young man who died on Boxing Day has not been forgotten by his former Bury St Edmunds school.

The County Upper School sixth form play, Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello, raised £200 for the British Heart Foundation in memory of Gareth Barham.

Gareth, 24, had a heart transplant nine years ago, but his new heart was failing and he passed away at the critical care unit of the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle on December 26.

Gareth’s father, The Reverend Peter Barham, who had been a Canon at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, said his son was not born with a heart condition, but had developed dilated cardiomyopathy – which causes the heart to become weakened and enlarged.

County Upper School headteacher Vicky Neale said: “Gareth, and his siblings Hannah and Harry, made a huge contribution to our extensive music and drama programme whilst they were here and so it is entirely fitting that our donation to the British Heart Foundation in Gareth’s memory should have come from the proceeds of our sixth form play.

“Gareth had his heart transplant when he was a year 10 student here and the school sent several thousand pounds to Great Ormond Street Hospital from that year’s charity fundraising reflecting the high esteem in which he was held and our affection for him. Popular and impressive before his illness, the way he coped with it was an example to us all and many staff remember him well.

“Whilst it is tragic that someone with so much to look forward to should die so young, we are pleased that he enjoyed nine such positive and happy years after his transplant and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”

After Gareth completed his schooling at County Upper, the family moved to Ponteland, near Newcastle.

The Rev Barham said Gareth had achieved much since his transplant.

“The nine years were not dominated by hospitals. He had nine years in which to grow up and achieve so many other things.”

Gareth graduated from Newcastle College with a foundation degree in computer gaming and he had moved into his own home.

The Rev Barham, who was touched by the affection people in Bury still have for Gareth, said: “How grateful we are to the donor and the support of people on the donor register.”

To become an organ donor visit or call 0300 1232323.


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