Portsmouth school Cliffdale Primary Academy launches project in memory of "shining star" pupil who died

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A Portsmouth primary school is fundraising to create a new splash pad for pupils to enjoy - and to commemorate a “shining star” little boy who tragically died.

Hayden-Jay Archbold, who lived in Fratton with his parents Lauren Emery and Glen Archbold and older brother Logan-Jay, died suddenly and unexpectedly on Friday, September 1 2023 from a rare condition at the age of 6. Hayden-Jay was a popular pupil at Cliffdale Primary Academy in Copnor, which caters to children with learning difficulties. According to his mother, Hayden “always put a smile on people’s faces” and would effortlessly“have adults in fits of laughter” with his wonderful sense of humour. The primary school is planning to create a facility for pupils from Cliffdale - and four other Solent Academies Trust special needs schools across Hampshire and West Sussex - to enjoy in memory of Hayden.

Hayden was known as a "shining star" at Cliffdale Primary Academy.Hayden was known as a "shining star" at Cliffdale Primary Academy.
Hayden was known as a "shining star" at Cliffdale Primary Academy. | Contributed

Hayden’s mother Lauren was stunned when the school approached her with the idea earlier this year. Speaking to The News, she said: “I’m speechless. I was thinking that maybe it would be a bench or something with his name on, or a picture on the wall. I was shocked - I wasn’t expecting it. When I told Hayden’s dad and his nan, they were overwhelmed as well. I burst into tears when I got called in. Hayden was a very popular young boy there, he was a big character. Back in 2022, he was awarded ‘achiever of the year’ out of the whole school. He’s always been known as Cliffdale’s shining star.”

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Cliffdale Primary Academy used to have a swimming pool, but this space has since been rebuilt and fitted with three new classrooms - providing an increase in places available for children to benefit from specialist education. A spokesperson from the school explained that playing with water “provides a beneficial sensory experience which can be used all year round” and the idea for a splash pad came about through consultation with pupils. It is hoped that the facility will help children have “the same experiences as their siblings and friends” in a safe and accessible environment, as some may struggle to access community splash parks.

Lauren added: “Anyone like my son Hayden does not like busy places. If it’s too hectic, he wouldn’t cope. If it’s on the school grounds, and they’re used to that environment - they’re going to love it. I know that Hayden will be shining down and smiling - he will be there with them.”

A spokesperson for the school said “Hayden’s friends regularly talk about their friend and missing Hayden, and it’s important that they are able to keep that memory alive, and that they can enjoy an activity together which they would have enjoyed with Hayden so that they feel he is a part of that experience.”

Cliffdale hopes to fundraise at least a quarter of the total cost of the project through events such as its annual summer fayre and cake sales - and if this goal is exceeded, a larger facility could be built.

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Principal Nicola Payne said “Hayden was full of laughter, and he loved playing with his friends he loved the beach and similar experiences. I’m really proud of the community for getting together to support this amazing project, and to remember Hayden. I’m really excited to have a Splash Pad at Cliffdale that our children can enjoy for years to come.”

CEO Sharon Burt added: “We are delighted to be able to support our Cliffdale community to access such a special and much needed resource for pupils to be able to have fun with their friends at school and enjoy their sensory activities using the Splash Pad. A truly fitting tribute to Hayden who was so dearly loved by his friends and the Cliffdale community, he will be forever in our hearts.”

You can donate to the cause by clicking here or scanning the QR code above.

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