Young people praised for their ‘amazing’ support to the families of Pulham tragedy teenagers Kyle Warren, Billy Hines and Dominic O’Neill
PUBLISHED: 08:20 05 May 2017 | UPDATED: 21:20 08 May 2017
It was a devastating tragedy which rocked a community of young people who had formed close friendships with three teenagers who were suddenly taken too soon.
But despite being hit hard by the deaths of Kyle Warren, Billy Hines and Dominic O’Neill in a tragic car crash, community leaders say it is the young people themselves who have led the way with their love, care and support in one of the most difficult times.
Just hours after the three popular teenagers died when the car they were travelling in came off the road and hit a tree in Tivetshall Road, Pulham Market on April 5, those who knew them were posting heartfelt tributes on social media and leaving an amazing array of flowers at the scene.
Less than 24 hours after the accident, they had organised a lantern parade in their memory and had set to work on making the car Billy had planned to learn to drive road-legal for memorial a road run from Diss to Yarmouth just a few days later.
That event was attended by hundreds of people, who wrote messages of support and revved their engines in a show of solidarity with the three families.
They also made bracelets containing the initials of the three boys to give people something to remember them by.
And the funerals of the three boys over the past week or so continued to show the amazing response of the area’s young people, with hundreds of teenagers hugging and consoling each other as they attended the services.
The support overwhelmed the families of the three boys - and has impressed community leaders too.
The Rev Nigel Tuffnell, rector and rural dean of the Seven Churches group in Harleston and the surrounding area, said: “The community has come together amazingly well but what’s been most remarkable is how good the young people have been.
“They’ve been so dynamic and so effective, and have come together in supporting one another.
“You tend to think it’s the older people supporting the younger ones but it’s amazing how the young people have come together to offer support to the rest of us as well.
“It is very humbling and I’ve been very impressed.”
The Rev Tuffnell added that the public’s response to the tragedy “shows the real health of the community here”.
He added that Kyle’s funeral service at St John the Baptist Church in Harleston - which he led - and Dominic’s at St Mary Magdelene Church in Pulham Market, which he attended, were a great expression of the lives the two boys had lived.
Richard Cranmer, headteacher at Archbishop Sancroft High School (ASHS) - which Kyle and Dom attended - said: “I have been astonished by the intensity and breadth of the response from the communities in which Kyle, Billy and Dom lived and worked.
“It is clear that their friendship networks were extensive and reached across all ages.
“Each of the funerals were different and reflected the personalities and individuality of each of the young men.
“Looking at the congregation at the funerals of Kyle and Dom was like watching a film of the past eight years in the life of our school. There were so many ex-students who clearly had strong bonds with each other that have lasted long after their time at school - and I think will continue for many, many years.
“In our last Ofsted report, the lead inspector described ASHS as ‘a school where students thrive’.
“I have always felt this to be the case but the sad events of the past two weeks have reminded me exactly what she meant.
“We work really hard to enable our students to develop character, to look out for others and to be confident in themselves as they prepare for life beyond school - and at Kyle and Dom’s funerals, we saw plenty of that in each of them.”
Rob Connelly, deputy headteacher at ASHS, added: “The response has reinforced the unique and special community that we are part of.
“The levels of friendship and compassion demonstrated by so many reflects how much care and love there is for one another.
“These are values that we promote through all our work and it has highlighted the importance of our work in developing character and confidence in young people.”