A fitting tribute to a special little boy

Aidan's father Karl, mother Vikki and brother Daniel with The Gruffalo at Barndale House School.

Aidan's father Karl, mother Vikki and brother Daniel with The Gruffalo at Barndale House School.

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A special memorial has been unveiled at an Alnwick school in memory of a much-loved pupil who died last year, aged four.

The five-foot-tall Gruffalo statue takes pride of place at the front of Barndale House School to honour Aidan Jackowiak Smith.

Aidan Jackowiak Smith

Aidan Jackowiak Smith

The Alnwick youngster died in May after suffering respiratory failure, having been critically ill in hospital for a month.

Dubbed the world’s rarest boy, he had the complex genetic disorder Cloves Syndrome, suffering huge swelling to his face and body. He also endured regular seizures.

Aidan was a treasured member of the Barndale community and was popular with both the pupils and staff.

And last Friday, The Gruffalo memorial was unveiled during a poignant ceremony, attended by Aidan’s parents, Karl and Vikki, and his older brother Daniel.

Youngsters from Aidan’s class joined the service, singing two songs – Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands – and blew bubbles. Extracts from The Gruffalo, a children’s book by Julia Donaldson, were also read out.

In what was an incredibly touching moment, a rainbow appeared overhead as Duchess’s Community High School pupil Ellie Hamblett sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

The wooden statue, made by Scottish-based sculptor Pete Bowsher, is a fitting tribute to Aidan, who loved The Gruffalo. Little Aidan’s bedroom was Gruffalo-themed, while his coffin – described by loved ones as his forever bed – was decorated in the same way.

Karl said: “The statue is a fantastic tribute to a special boy who loved and enjoyed going to Barndale and it helps his memory live on. We would like to thank Barndale for the memorial and for making Friday a special day.

“To top it all off, when singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Aidan made sure we got a rainbow. It brought us a lot of comfort. Aidan is always with us, but he was even more so at that point.”