Family and friends devastated as Leo, eight, dies suddenly

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to an eight-year-old boy who tragically died at the weekend.

Thursday, 28th June 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 4:50 pm
Leo at Rock Challenge this year with mum, dad and sister Courtney

Leo Burton bumped his head while playing outside on Saturday.

Despite there being no bruises, he didn’t wake up on Sunday morning.

The news rocked the community around St John’s Square in Gosport, with everyone in the area speaking highly of a young boy who was loved by all but taken far too soon.

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Leo at Rock Challenge this year with mum, dad and sister Courtney

Family members have spoken of their heartbreak in the wake of Leo’s death, highlighting his kind nature and ever-present smile.

Grandmother Michelle Dennis, 49, said: ‘It’s devastating. I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet.’

Leo’s aunt, 24-year-old Nikki Burton, said: ‘Leo was just one of the brightest little boys ever; he was so smiley and could make anyone laugh instantly.

‘He really liked doing magic tricks – his favourite was one where you pick a card, he shuffles the deck but kept your one at the bottom and then asked ‘is this your card?’ and it melted my heart every time.

Leo's friends with tributes at a play park

‘Leo was loved so much by everyone – he gave his dad so much joy.

‘He was a beautiful boy and we will miss him so much.

‘He’s been taken from the world much too soon.’

Leo’s grandmother, Loretta Burton, 64, said: ‘Leo was always happy and smiling.

Jack Rogers, 10, laying flowers at the play park in memory of Leo

‘He loved being out and about and being around people.

‘He hated seeing people upset and that caring nature that we will never forget.

‘But everyone has been looking out for one another and we are all incredibly grateful for that.’

Since receiving the news of Leo’s death, the fence at St John’s Square has been covered in tributes – from flowers and balloons to Mickey Mouse toys.

Family friend Jade Blyth, 31, said: ‘Leo was obsessed with Mickey Mouse because he had a big teddy of him from when he was a baby.

‘There’s now a load of Mickey Mouse teddies in St John’s Square as part of the memorial – it’s just grown and grown as people found out about it.

‘It’s a beautiful way to remember him and just goes to show how many lives he touched.

‘The whole thing is incredibly sad because it was such a freak accident and could have happened to anyone.’

Neighbour Trudy Jackson, 34, says that Leo was close with everyone in the community.

She said: ‘He would sometime refer to me as his wife, which was rather sweet.

‘We were meant to be having a pizza date, but never got round to it.

‘He was such a cute little lad, always happy and smiling – if you were ever feeling down in the dumps Leo would be there to pick you back up.’

Trudy’s sister Vicki Stock, 32, used to babysit Leo, forming a close bond with the eight-year-old.

She said: ‘He would call me his auntie Vic-Vic. I went and sat with the kids the morning that it happened.

‘He was the bubbliest person to be around – he would put a smile on everyone’s faces.

‘I just can’t believe he’s gone – it’s a really sad loss and I’m heartbroken.’

Lisa Wootton’s daughter, Scarlett, was one of Leo’s closest friends at St John’s School.

Lisa said: ‘Scarlett used to call Leo her “best boy” and they were practically joined at the hip. They would spend every lunchtime together at school and so she’s devastated by the news – as is everyone.

‘But the way that everyone around here has pulled together for the family is just incredible.

‘It’s been overwhelming for the parents in a way because it just shows how loved Leo was by the local community.

‘Everyone is sad about what happened, but Gosport is full of fond memories of Leo that will last a lifetime.

‘Everybody had a connection with him and so he’ll never be forgotten.’

The memorial at St John’s Square is open for anyone to leave a tribute to Leo.

He leaves behind his mum Natalie, dad Tom, and siblings Courtney, Levi, Liam and Sophia.