A PLAYGROUND gazebo will ensure the memory of a beloved staff member will live on at a Sunderland school.
Staff and pupils at Newbottle Primary School were heartbroken when business manager, Val Kilner, died last August following a short battle with cancer.
In memory of Val, they decided to build a wooden gazebo in the playground, where the students could sit and an artist decorated it with paintings of yellow flowers.
This week, everyone in the school was joined by Val’s husband Ian, and other family and friends, for the official opening of the gazebo, which was decorated in yellow ribbons and balloons.
Jackie Moran, who is now business manager at the Houghton Road school, said it was a very emotional day with lots of tears, but also a poignant way of paying tribute to Val, who was 53 when she died.
She said: “It was such a beautiful day, the sun was shining so brightly and people were saying it was like Val was smiling down on us.
“It was lovely that everyone wore something yellow, which was Val’s favourite colour.”
Jackie said Val’s death has left a massive hole in the school community, and they all think about her every day.
She said: “Val had been at the school for five years and, in that time, she threw herself into everything.
“Although she was the business manager, she was very hands on with the pupils, running the school council, the gardening club and the netball team.
“She was such an enthusiastic person. She was very nurturing and really had the best interests of the children at heart.
“We plan to have a school award every year in her memory and it will be something for kindness and friendship.”
Val, who lived in Bournmoor, left the school due to her illness in Easter last year and died in August, just a couple of weeks after her two baby grandsons, one to each of her sons, were born.
Jackie said: “I think she was just hanging on to see the babies. It is lovely that she got to see them, but so sad she can’t be with them to watch them grow.”