School friends' memorial to tragic Kiara

FAMILY and friends of Kiara Stevenson-Mann are today remembering her happy life after a poignant memorial.Kiara, five, of Ireland Road, Ipswich, was fatally injured when her bike came off the pavement and went into the path of a coach in August last year – just five days before her sixth birthday.

FAMILY and friends of Kiara Stevenson-Mann are today remembering her happy life after a poignant memorial.

Kiara, five, of Ireland Road, Ipswich, was fatally injured when her bike came off the pavement and went into the path of a coach in August last year – just five days before her sixth birthday.

Her friends at Cliff Lane Primary School - who have had to come to terms with her death over the last 18 months - helped plant an ornamental crab apple tree at a ceremony with the family.

The tribute was particularly moving as it was sister Georgia's fifth birthday and she was able to play a leading role in the celebration of Kiara's life.

The sisters were extremely close and went everywhere together. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Georgia, who also goes to Cliff Lane, was given Kiara's birthday presents because it would have been what Kiara would have wanted.

Mother Michelle Stevenson is still very upset, but was happy that Kiara will be remembered whenever anyone sees the tree.

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She said: "It is another Christmas without her. I think about her every day. What can you say? You can't explain it.

"But it is nice to remember Kiara in this way especially with it being Georgia's birthday. The tree will always be there."

Ms Stevenson was accompanied by Kiara's father, Colin Mann, and six-month-old sister Morgan. Ms Stevenson's sister, Paula Coe, her children, Britney, five, and Kelsey, eight, and family friend, Giovanni Dedona, were also at the ceremony.

Before the eager children started filling in the soil, deputy headteacher Margaret Bateman told them: "This is a special tree and a special celebration for Kiara. You are going to finish planting it and then it will grow big and strong."

Julie Jones, Kiara's former Key Stage One teacher, said: "I remember her very vividly. She was very smiley and a happy girl. She was a very well liked little girl. Every time the children pass the tree they will remember her."

Suffolk County Council groundsman Peter Brooks prepared the initial planting of the seven foot tree, which was kindly donated by Roots and Shoots nursery, in Badley.

A circular picnic table was bought with generous donations from Evening Star readers and cash left over will go towards school play equipment.

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