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Sam's Bench

A family paid a heartfelt thanks to a primary school after it held a moving tribute to a much missed pupil with the unveiling of a bench in his memory.

Pupils, parents and staff at West Park Academy, Darlington, came together for a special community service and to remember Sam Hardy. The five year-old, of Darlington, lost his fight against leukemia in January 2016 after battling the condition since being diagnosed while at nursery school. More than £300 donated by parents enabled the school to commission a bespoke bench, featuring foxes at each end, which has been placed in the academy’s outdoor learning area, within a willow circle and surrounded by yellow flowers, Sam’s favourite colour. Attending the ceremony Sam’s mum Emma said: “We would like to thank everyone who donated towards the bench. Sam was such a loss to our family but we have very many fond memories of him. “It is so lovely to have his bench here so that he can also be remembered at school for a long time to come. “I think he would have loved to have sat on this bench; it would definitely have got his seal of approval.” The academy’s carol concert was led by the school choir singing a medley of Christmas Carols before a procession of students dressed in traditional nativity costumes made their way to Sam’s bench for the official unveiling. Principal Sam Hirst said: “Sam was a delightful little boy and the youngest of four brothers, who all attended West Park Academy and were a pleasure to teach. “He was such a part of our school community that we wanted to remember him in a very special way. “Sam loved the outdoors and his favourite soft toy was a fox, so the bench really is a fitting tribute to him. It’s somewhere everyone can go, sit, relax and remember him and I’m sure that he would have loved it.”