Students at Cockburn had special assemblies on Thursday 9 March to commemorate the death of student Kyle Asquith, who passed away following a fatal brain haemorrhage 4 years ago.
A year after the 15-year-old’s tragic death, students and teachers at Cockburn launched a series of special fund-raising events in his memory, with the aim of raising £5,000 for The Kyle Asquith Foundation, a charity that would support the NHS Blood and Transplant Trust Fund and other local charities. The charity has since gone on to raise over £20,000.
The school welcomed Kyle’s mother and father, Tracy and Alex Asquith as well as his grandparents, all of whom are regular visitors to the school. Tracy said that “Being part of this day at Cockburn is a big help to us on such a difficult day.”
Also there was Raymond Tait, 39, a resident of Dundee and transplant recipient, who received Kyle’s kidney and pancreas in March 2013 after four years of intensive dialysis treatment. This was his second visit to the school to support the charity and raise awareness of organ donation. Raymond had written a poem which he shared with the students at Cockburn. Raymond was one of five people given hope by Kyle’s parents and their act of kindness.
He said he was proud to come back to Leeds and talk to the students about his life changing transplant, adding:
“It goes to show how dramatically a life can change. Within a few weeks of the transplant my life had changed so much. By making more people aware and by more people signing up to donate, Kyle will save many more lives than the 5 he saved with his organs.”
Assistant Headteacher, Chris Sutcliffe, talked to the students about the work of the charity over recent years and urged them to continue the fundraising into the future. She also told students about a recent £500 donation made to south Leeds charity Charlie’s Angels, based in Middleton, that was set up by a parent who lost her child, and who wanted to support other bereaved parents in the community.
Cockburn also welcomed a number of NHS staff who wanted to raise awareness of organ donation. Dr Claire Tordoff, a consultant in the Intensive Care unit at St James Hospital, spoke of looking after the poorliest patients at the hospital and the reality of how some people who do not make it donate their organs to save the lives of others. “These people are our heroes” she said “and Kyle is one of our heroes – we are incredibly proud of him.”
Later in the day, Year 9 students had workshops led by the intensive care consultants supported by Specialist Nurses for Organ Donation Rachel Summers and Jane Tute. Jane had been with the Asquiths throughout Kyle’s last hours.
Using resources from the NHS Blood and Transplant team, students were asked to consider the different arguments for and against organ donation. They discussed video clips of real life young people who had benefitted from organ donation and were given the opportunity to ask questions about life in the intensive care unit. Dr Simon Flood, another consultant in the Intensive Care unit at St James Hospital, said that is was “a fabulous opportunity to encourage young people to take the stories back to their dinner table and raise the topic with their families.” Year 9 student, Riley Andrews, said that the workshops had given him “more of a real life view of what it is like. It was great to be able to ask questions and understand what it is like for the medical staff.”
Dr Catherine Penrose, Paedictric Intensive Care Consultant at the Leeds General Infirmary spoke to students of how “the families of the young people who have died and have donated their organs have hope and something positive – a legacy moving forward.”
Alex Asquith, who joined the workshops with his family and Raymond Tait, told the students “It is so comforting to know about the people who benefitted from Kyle’s organs. Ray has four kids and their dad’s life is thanks to our Kyle.”
Headteacher, David Gurney, said: “Most of our current students weren’t here when Kyle was and as the years go on we want to make sure the Foundation is still going strong so that everyone can take ownership of it. We are very proud of the work that they do to raise funds and keep his memory alive.”
If you wish to contribute to The Kyle Asquith Foundation, please contact the school at firstname.lastname@example.org and title the email ‘Kyle Asquith’.
They also have a JustGiving site and you can make donations online at: justgiving.com/kyle-asquith