Celebration as Stubbington school opens 'very special' Sophie's Sunflower Studio pupils' art workshop in memory of local girl and 'passionate' artist Sophie Fairall

FAMILY, friends, and schoolmates of a Stubbington girl who tragically passed away from cancer at the age of 10 celebrated the official opening of a 'very special' art studio.

Saturday, 25th June 2022, 4:55 am

Crofton Anne Dale Federation, the school attended by Sophie Fairall before her passing in 2021, now has a unique creative workshop space for pupils to learn painting, sewing, pottery, and stencilling.

Created in memory of the inspirational youngster, the Stubbington community came together to help make Sophie's Sunflower Studio a reality.

At the official opening, pupils handed out sunflower cupcakes, and a choir sang songs for those gathered outside the school.

From left, Sophie's mum Charlotte Fairall, left, and dad Gareth, right, with Caroline Dinenage MP and Clive Saughter. Picture: Sarah Standing (240622-897)

Lorraine Phillips, executive federation head, said: 'We are hugely grateful to everyone. We had the idea because art was so important to Sophie.

‘This studio emerged from nothing.

‘It's a unique provision and a very special provision, and that reflects Sophie, who gave so much in a short time and continues to give.

‘This has got so much potential - it's amazing.’

Sophie Fairall

Sophie's family, including her mum, dad, and two sisters, attended the official opening.

Mum Charlotte Fairall said: ‘Sophie knew about this, and she was so excited - she said “they're getting a proper art space”.

‘It feels very special.

‘I'm really pleased we did it for her year group, Year 6 - it's great that they have been able to use it before they move up.’

Sophie's sister Amelia Fairall, nine Picture: Sarah Standing (240622-915)

Clive Slaughter, friend of the family, project managed the creation of Sophie's Sunflower Studio.

Charlotte said: ‘Clive is the man behind it, Sophie got under his skin.’

Clive, who cut the ribbon on the studio along with Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage, added: 'We became friends with the family before Sophie passed away.

‘When she passed away, Charlotte came to me and said "can you help, can you get involved".

Sophie's family, from left, Sister Amelia, nine, dad Gareth, 43, sister Lucy, 15, and mum Charlotte Fairall, 42 in the new art studio. Picture: Sarah Standing (240622-907)

‘We took the design of the studio forward - basically what you see today is the original design, everybody loved it.

‘We were inundated with people want to help, it was a real community effort.

‘From my point of view, it's about how Sophie would have felt about it.

‘She is still making a massive difference in the community - not many 10-year-olds can say that.’

Before cutting the yellow ribbon on the studio's front doors, Caroline Dinenage said: 'This is a remarkable achievement by everybody who's been involved.

'Thank you for what you've done for the young people here, for the Stubbington community.’

Funds raised by creative work sold in the studio shop will go to support charities that helped the Fairall family during Sophie's sickness: Abby's Heroes, Alice's Arc, Hannah's Holiday Home Appeal, and George's Rockstars.

Inside Sophie's Sunflower Studio, Lorraine said: ‘Every time I walk into the studio, it just gives me tingles.

'Sophie was such a special girl, she really did touch all of us in that final journey she had.

'She was so strong, she was so dignified, she was passionate about art.'

Charlotte added that Sophie particularly loved drawing and painting.

She said: ‘She did it in the hospital and when she'd been discharged - she was very creative.

‘I'm good at making cakes, and my whole family quite creative - it's in the genes.’