The family of a young boy who died after a boxing match at a children’s home in Fife almost 60 years ago are investigating how they could have his body exhumed and repatriated to a burial plot next to his siblings in Lanark.
Estelle Higgins, 46, the niece of 14-year-old Alexander Harvey who died in 1960 while residing at Falkland’s former St Ninian’s School, said it would “help bring closure” to her mum Mary – Alexander’s sister – and the rest of the family, if his body could finally be returned home.
However, lawyers have indicated the family would have to track down and seek permission from the relatives of the Christian Brotherhood priests also buried in the Falkland lair before any action could be taken.
Estelle also confirmed that, tragically, the whereabouts of Alexander’s remains remained a mystery to the family for 56 years – until press coverage about his grave appeared in 2016.
As first reported by The Courier, rumours had been circulating the Fife village for years that Alexander was a victim of the recently publicised abusive regime at Falkland’s former St Ninian’s School, which closed in 1983.
What makes his grave particularly unusual is that he is buried between two men of the Christian Brotherhood – Richard Albeus Fitton, who died at Falkland aged 75 in 1958, and John Kevin Nugent, who died aged 78 in 1977.
It led some locals to believe that the youngster may have died at St Ninian’s in suspicious circumstances.
However, a more rational explanation for Harvey’s death emerged when his death certificate was tracked down and it confirmed that the cause of his passing was “congenitally abnormal heart valve: diffuse myocardial fibrosis” – or congenital heart failure.
The absence of foul play was given further credence this week when Alexander’s best friend from St Ninian’s – 71-year-old George Ricketts, formerly of Edinburgh and now living in Morocco – contacted The Courier to confirm that he died from natural causes.
Getting in touch with The Courier from Lanark after reading that article online, Estelle, who is herself a mother-of-four and grandmother of one, said the family were “touched” that her Uncle Alexander was being remembered after all these years.
However, after years of heartache, she said the whole episode brought back particularly painful memories for her 80-year-old mum – Alexander’s only living sibling – who still gets “really upset” when she remembers the family being split up and sent to homes in the 1950s following the death of their father.
“The last time mum saw him was the week before he died,” said Estelle. “But no one ever said what happened to him after he died. Mum can remember it all like yesterday. It’s very upsetting. He shouldn’t really have been taking part in a boxing match if he had a heart condition.
“One day we’d like to visit the grave – but ultimately we’d like to have his body moved to be with sisters in Lanark.”