Alesha MacPhail school unveils memorial for pupil who ‘will never be forgotten’

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Pupils (top, from left) Chloe Adams, 11, Aaron Reid, 10, Kerr Reid, 12, and Felix Sneddon, 8, with (front) sisters Kacie, 9, Isla, 7, and Jorgia Cowie, 5, from Chapelside Primary School (Jane Barlow/PA)

Primary school children have helped unveil a new playground memorial dedicated to their former fellow pupil Alesha MacPhail.

The youngster from Airdrie, who was murdered while on holiday on the Isle of Bute last summer, attended Chapelside Primary School where a new playhouse has been built.

It is the main feature of a redeveloped playground area which has been built after more than £22,000 was raised by the school’s parent council through a JustGiving page.

On Thursday, a special assembly will be held to remember the schoolgirl, with a poem called “Alesha’s Smile” being read out.

Alesha MacPhail tributes
Alesha MacPhail was murdered on the Isle of Bute last year (Jane Barlow/PA)

Wendy Davie, head teacher at the school, said her “infectious” smile was the feature she will “always remember”.

Ms Davie told the Press Association: “Alesha was a very friendly wee girl and she would often be found in little corners of the playground sitting with her friends, having a right good blether.

“It was really, really important that she always tried her best. She liked to keep the teacher in check as well if she didn’t think the teacher was doing things right.

“The children’s ideas were that it would be great to have a place in the playground where they could meet their friends and play and explore and read books and draw and just have a real meeting place.

“This wee playhouse is going to be the heartbeat of our playground where the children can come together and socialise.”

Playhouse
The new playhouse built after ideas from Alesha’s fellow pupils (Jane Barlow/PA)

Inside the playhouse are various drawings and pictures made by the pupils, while there is also a “stage” area situated beside it.

Ms Davie said it would have been popular with Alesha herself, who “loved being on stage” and was singing or dancing at “any opportunity”.

After a week of being online, the JustGiving page hit 10% of its £8,000 target before being smashed overnight with the help of comedian Jason Manford.

Louise Reid, chair of the parent council, said the playhouse was always going to be a feature of their plans even after receiving nearly three times their initial aim.

Plaque
A plaque above the new playhouse at Chapelside Primary School in Airdrie (Jane Barlow/PA)

She told PA: “We were jumping up and down when we raised £800 because JustGiving was telling us we were at 10%, never mind even hitting the target and blasting that.

“We still said we wanted the playhouse. The playhouse was what we originally wanted, that’s what suited Alesha and all the other kids to have somewhere nice to go to remember her instead of a bench. This way all the kids can use it.

“To reach even the £800 was with our own local parents and community to start off with which we can’t thank them enough for letting us start getting the ball rolling.

“We’ve had messages from Canada, Australia, just wishing us all the best and they can’t wait to see pictures.”

Alesha MacPhail playpark dedication
Kerr Reid and Felix Sneddon sitting outside the new playhouse (Jane Barlow/PA)

Nicola Smith, vice-chair, added: “The kids were all friends with her as well, they always know what this is all about.

“They were always included. The kids did the planting and the pictures, they’ve always been asked what they would like.

“Alesha will never, ever be forgotten. It’s a part of now helping the kids, not move on but move on in a positive light and being able to remember her.”

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