Tributes pour in for 'immensely loved' student who died in his sleep

Tributes have been pouring in for an 'immensely loved' student whose death has shaken the community.

Farley's family watch the balloons
Farley's family watch the balloons

Farley Kidner, aged 17, died last week in his sleep.

Farley was a student at Coppice Performing Arts School, in Wednesfield, and left the school in August 2020 to continue his studies at Walsall Academy.

Headteacher, Claire Gilbert, with floral tributes left at the school
Floral tributes have been laid at the school

Friends of Farley have been leaving floral tributes, photographs and handwritten messages outside of Coppice Performing Arts School since last week, with more and more being placed each day.

On Tuesday afternoon, students organised a balloon release in honour of Farley to pay tribute to his life.

Farley's family, friends, former students, teachers and current pupils at the school gathered outside in the school's grounds to remember his life.

Farley's family, Riley East-Paddock, mum Leanne East-Paddock and step-dad Andy Paddock

Tears were shed as mourners gathered in a circle, each holding a blue or white balloon – some had written personal messages to also be released.

Claire Gilbert, headteacher, paid tribute to Farley. She said: "This has come from the young people. The devastation of the news that we heard last week losing one of the Coppice family, our dear friend Farley shocked us terribly.

"But this has come from his friends who wanted to do something very specific.

Friends gather at the balloon release

"The floral tributes are just one element of the outpouring of love and absolute focus for him.

"We have been overwhelmed with the goodwill wishes for Farley.

"Things happen and they make no sense – the devastation that we feel is paramount.

"He was a bright, wonderful young man taken far too soon, an absolute credit to our school and to his family and I know there are no words to explain how you feel.

"This is just to say, Farley you are much loved. I am sure you know that, we love you and we miss you."

Farley's brother, Riley East-Paddock

Farley's younger brother Riley let off the first balloon.

Shortly afterwards the air was filled with more than 100 blue and white balloons in honour of the Birmingham City supporter.

The crowd watched the balloons float away over the horizon in silence, remembering the young man who was loved and treasured by so many.

Friends of Farley held each other's shoulders before beginning a chant of 'We love you Farley we do', followed by a round of applause.

Farley's brother, Riley East-Paddock, watches the release with his family

Coppice School is planning to host a number of fundraising events in honour of Farley and in support of his family and younger brother; a memory book is also set to be created.

Another of Farley's friends, Jacob Ojelay, set up a fundraiser on Sunday following the tragedy.

So far, £11,988 has been raised by more than 400 people.

Farley's family watch the balloons float away

Cresswell Wanderers FC, who coach Riley, donated £2,080 to the fundraiser.

Mike Dunn, chairman of Cresswell Wanderers FC, said: "We were informed by his manager of the terrible news on Tuesday.

"We felt it was only right, to do something to help the family, in these tragic circumstances.

Friends watch the balloons float away

"I organised a whip around from the entire club on Friday, as we wanted to help a family we’re committed to but, also help ease the burden such a tragic loss would bring.

"If anything, I’m sure the total on the fundraiser, including our donation proves how close knit the football family is.

"All of our thoughts are with the family right now, RIP Farley."

Friends watch the balloons float away

Staff and students at Walsall Academy are also paying tribute to Farley.

A spokeswoman from the school said: "The staff and students at Walsall Academy are deeply saddened by the loss and have sent their deepest condolences to the family of Farley at this very sad time.

"The Academy is extremely proud of the efforts of friends and family who have raised an impressive amount of money in a private fundraiser in Farley’s memory."

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