Boy, 12, who died suddenly at school told family ‘I love you’ in last words

Family friends describe Ryan Heffernan as ‘kind-hearted’ and ‘full of life’

Emily Atkinson
Thursday 31 March 2022 20:01 BST
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Ryan Heffernan died after he collapsed at Shoeburyness High School, Southend-on-Sea, on Monday
Ryan Heffernan died after he collapsed at Shoeburyness High School, Southend-on-Sea, on Monday (GoFundMe for Ryan Heffernan )

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A boy who died while playing with his friends during lunch break at school in Essex told his parents “I love you” before he left his home for the last time.

Ryan Heffernan, 12, collapsed on Monday at Shoeburyness High School in Southend-on-Sea.

Despite the efforts of the emergency services, including an air ambulance, Ryan was tragically declared dead a short time later.

A family friend described the young boy as “kind-hearted” and “full of life”, alongside a torrent of online tributes left to the 12-year-old.

Floral tributes have also been laid by the entrance to the school where Ryan had been a pupil since September.

Police officers have launched an investigation into Ryan’s death, which they classified on Tuesday as “unexplained” and ruled out any third-party involvement.

A GoFundMe page set up by a family friend to help with the cost of the youngster’s funeral has so far raised £14,575.

Charlene Mullaly, who organised the fundraiser so Ryan could have “best send off”, said: “I am fundraising in hope to help the family with financial support toward the funeral cost for their son, and to help give them the time they need in order to mourn and heal from their sudden loss.

“Ryan was a 12 year old kind hearted, happy, full of life young boy. Monday morning he left for school healthy and happy saying “I love you” to his family (This was the last thing he said to them).

“He was only in his first year of senior school, a year 7 student on his lunch break when he was sadly taken. No parent should have to endure this pain, I cannot begin to imagine how hard it must be to process.

“I am deeply saddened by what has happened as I know many are shocked and upset.”

The page has also provided a space for well-wishers to pay tribute to Ryan.

“Absolutely devastating for the family. Sending all my love to them. Rest in peace beautiful young man. Xx,” Sara Speller wrote.

Corrine Waylen added: “I’m so sorry for your loss! I can’t imagine the pain you must be going through. Thoughts are with you and your family.”

District Commander Ian Hughes, of Essex Police, previously said: “I would like to offer my condolences to the boy’s family and we are doing everything we can to support them through this tragic and difficult time.. Our officers remain at the school at this time to continue our enquiries.

“We will continue to investigate the circumstances into the boy’s death and will work with the school tomorrow. We are aware of comments on social media, and we want to reassure the local community and parents of pupils at the school, no knife was involved during this tragic incident.’

Southend City Council also say they are supporting the school and the family. A spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are very much with the family and whole school community at this difficult time.”

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