Garden to honour former pupils unveiled at Parkside School, Norwich

A memorial garden to two young pupils who died in tragic circumstances was unveiled at a Norwich school yesterday.

Parents, teachers and pupils from Parkside School on College Road came together to honour the memory of Shannon Appleton-Gower, who died in November last year of heart failure, aged only 10, and former pupil Robert Key, who was killed by a drug-driver in December 2006, aged 23.

The garden was created by pupils at the school, which caters for children with complex needs.

They chose the plants, helped with the design and planted and constructed the garden with land maintenance teacher Alastair Ranns.

Mr Ranns said: 'It means a lot to the school, it shows that even through the worst times, such as the loss of Shannon, we can still learn and progress ourselves.

'It affected the whole school, it was sudden and surprising, so it is nice to have somewhere dedicated to her and for the kids to sit and remember her, as well as honouring Robert, who was here before me.'

Two friendship benches are part of the garden, inscribed with the names of Shannon and Mr Key.

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Deputy head teacher Susan Booth said: 'It was a very difficult time for the pupils, losing a friend. It brought the school together, everyone worked hard to help the children, and they helped each other.

'I think it helped Shannon's parents, to see how much the children thought of their daughter.'

A presentation on the project was given by the pupils – many of whom were friends with Shannon – prior to the unveiling.

A large collage has also been created by the pupils, which shows the young girl as the centre of a flower made of butterflies.

Local company Ingenous-Iron gave the school a butterfly sculpture for the garden, and Taverham Garden Centre was thanked for a discount on flowers. Parents also donated money, including Mr Key's parents, David and Claire Key, from Hempnall. David Key said: 'From day one he loved it at this school, they gave him so much confidence here.'

Claire Key said: 'We are very proud of him, that people can actually remember him now, and will do in future.' Lord Mayor Ralph Gayton and wife Brenda also attended the unveiling.

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