Tributes to the little man with the big personality

He inspired so many people in his short life, and last week nearly 200 mourners packed into St John's Church to pay their respects to the "little man with the big personality".

Kieran Crawshaw, who had a rare ageing condition, died suddenly in hospital on March 30 at the age of eight.

At his funeral service last Wednesday his friends from Whitcliffe Road School in Cleckheaton paid their own tribute by singing All Things Bright and Beautiful, while his headteacher Karen Vickers read Promise You Won't Forget About Me Ever – an extract from The House at Pooh Corner.

Other tributes were paid by Kieran's family who have been overwhelmed by the messages of sympathy and support.

Kieran was born with Hutchinson Guilford Progeria, a condition which causes premature ageing and affects only around 35-40 children worldwide at any one time. There are only two others with the condition in the UK.

His mum Louise said: "It meant his body aged about seven times quicker than ours, and he suffered conditions that old people suffered. Despite that he has had a normal life, gone to mainstream school and done everything possible that he could do.

"He had some extremely good friends who treated him exactly the same way they would treat anyone else.

"We can't praise the school enough for what they did for Kieran. The teachers have been excellent and we'd especially like to thank Diane Asquith, his one-to-one support worker."

Last September Kieran was nominated for a Kirklees Children of Courage award which was presented by the Mayor of Kirklees at Huddersfield Town Hall.

"He was off school after having a bad accident 18 months ago and when he got back his teacher, Miss Grace, was so impressed with the amount of work he did to catch up, that she felt he deserved some recognition," said Louise.

Kieran was passionate about animals and enjoyed horse riding and visiting Knowsley Safari Park and Ponderosa.

His other main interest was King Arthur.

His dad Ian said: "He loved pretending he was a knight and loved going to the Royal Armouries. His face would light up every time we went.

articulate

"Until you got to know him he was very quiet and shy, but when he was confident in his surroundings he was very witty and articulate.

"He had a very vivid imagination – he'd play at going to the seaside and it would take all day because he'd stop at so many places on the way."

Louise went on: "Kieran was also devoted to his little sister Ellie. He always wanted a baby sister and when he saw her for the first time he was so proud. They were very close.”

And like all children, he could also be mischievous.

“When they were learning line dancing at school he would not let his helper finish until she got it right,” said Louise.

The family have nothing but praise for all the care they have received from medical staff throughout Kieran’s life.

“We would like to thank everyone who has been involved in his care,” said Louise.

Kieran had the chance to meet other children with the same condition through the American charity Sunshine Foundation, which organises trips to the US.

Louise said: “It gave the children a chance to relax and make friends in a family atmosphere, to play with other children who look the same and forget about people staring. They have such a good time and it was an experience we wouldn’t have missed.”

Many of Kieran’s friends who are in a local football team held a minute’s silence last weekend before their match and are to name a trophy after him. Neighbours have also offered to buy a bench at Ponderosa in his memory.

The family said they were deeply touched by the number of people who attended Kieran’s funeral.

“We just did not expect it, and it was such an emotional thing for the children to sing,” said Louise.

“We didn’t know he knew so many people and in the short time he had, he has made his mark with so many of them.

“As his headteacher said, he was the little man with the big personality. Everyone will remember his feistiness and his sense of humour, and he will be greatly missed as a friend, a brother and a son.”

Father Jonathan Barker, from St John’s Church, who conducted the funeral service, said he was a very brave and courageous boy.

“He was quite a reverential little lad, who attended all the assemblies I did at the school over the years and he always listened intently,” he said.

“When the Bishop of Adelaide visited last year he had his photograph taken with him and whenever I was in touch with the bishop afterwards, he always asked after Kieran.

“He was a lad of few words until he got to know you and then he could be quite mischievous with a wicked sense of humour

“He was a very considerate child who never complained about his condition but was always concerned about other children.

“He was very loving and was very much loved.”

Headteacher at Whitcliffe Road School Karen Vickers paid tribute to Kieran’s “perseverance and fortitude”.

She said: “His ability to overcome his difficulties set an example for us all. We’re going to buy a trophy in Kieran’s name to award to a pupil each year for demonstrating the qualities he possessed.

“He always did his best with a smile on his face and a sense of humour.”