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Boy's ashes buried at school he loved

The ashes of a courageous teenager who died after a lifelong battle with HIV/Aids have been buried beneath a tree in the grounds of the school he loved.

Yibi Matthews, who was born with the virus, was 16 when he died earlier this year.

He became a pupil at Great Cornard Upper School after coming to England three years ago.

Although he was often too ill to attend, students and staff all remember him as the boy with the big smile.

On Tuesday his adoptive parents, the Rev David Matthews and his wife Joan, laid his ashes to rest in a memorial garden created by his schoolfriends.

Mrs Matthews said: "We wanted to inter his ashes at the school because this is where his heart was with all his friends."

The couple met Yibi while they were working in South Africa and adopted him before returning to England.

Mr Matthews, who is rector of Boxford and nearby villages, said: "The times he was at school were among his happiest.

"He just loved being with people, especially people his own age, and he made some really good friends."

Classmates and teachers were among those who gathered to hear Mr Matthews conduct a short service before Yibi's ashes were buried.

A tree was planted to mark the spot, before his mother cut a ribbon to officially open the garden.

Upper School head Mike Foley said: "We are honoured and privileged that Yibi's mum and dad chose this place. This garden will be a place of peace and tranquillity. Yibi really generated a sense of community among the students.

"Whenever he was in school he was always surrounded by students talking and laughing."

Yibi's head of year, Jane Addis, said students wanted to do something in his memory and came up with the idea of a garden.

"To them he was the boy with the big smile and a great zest for life. I think that's how everyone remembers him."

Jamie Simpson, one of Yibi's closest friends, organised a collection to buy the tree.

Six 14-year-old pupils – Aaron Bareham, Mark Wickenden, Billy Vango, Ellen Gough, Isla Sharp and Emma Blinman – created the garden with help from school staff, the PTA and local companies.

Mr Foley said: "They have worked really hard to transform a drab area of the school into something very inviting."

 
 
 

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