Sister of murdered man Tom Kirwan sponsors his old football team in his memory

The sister of a man who was murdered 10 years ago in Wolverhampton has marked his birthday by sponsoring his former school's football team.

Tom Kirwan's niece, 10-year-old Carly Johnson. She is pictured with Tendy Taganra, nine, and Jenson Flowers, 10, teacher Kian Cunningham, Dylan Chisvo, 11, Mikey Guillermo, 10, Tristan Coheh, nine, Arias Ahmad, 10, Manmeet Singh, 10, Jakub Pleskacz, 11, Sukhpreet Singh, 11 and Adam Makarewicz, 11
Tom Kirwan's niece, 10-year-old Carly Johnson. She is pictured with Tendy Taganra, nine, and Jenson Flowers, 10, teacher Kian Cunningham, Dylan Chisvo, 11, Mikey Guillermo, 10, Tristan Coheh, nine, Arias Ahmad, 10, Manmeet Singh, 10, Jakub Pleskacz, 11, Sukhpreet Singh, 11 and Adam Makarewicz, 11

Tom Kirwan was murdered outside the Uberra nightclub on July 8 at the age of 23 in 2012, after violence flared between two groups next to the city's ring road.

Five people were locked up in 2014 for taking part in the trouble after being found guilty of affray, but nobody has ever been charged with his murder.

To celebrate what would have been his 33rd birthday on Monday, Tom's sister, 38-year-old Martine Johnson, decided to sponsor a primary school's football team.

Murder victim Tom Kirwan

However, it's not just any old football team – it's the team for St. Patrick’s Catholic Primary Academy – Tom's old primary school.

It's the team Tom played for when he was a child and now Martine's daughter, 10-year-old Carly Johnson, is following in his footsteps.

Martine, the senior supervisor at New Cross Hospital's portering department, said: "It would have been Tom's 33rd birthday on Monday and in his memory I've sponsored the school football team.

"They were looking for a new strip and some bits and bobs for the team, and they put it out to businesses, so I got in touch with them because Tom used to be a pupil at the school.

"And my daughter, Tom's niece, is actually captain of the football team, so I thought it all tied together nicely."

The Wednesfield school's football strip now has the initials 'TKLF' proudly emblazoned on it, standing for Tom Kirwan Live Forever – which Tom's niece and her teammates will wear whenever they play.

"Because obviously we want his memory to live forever," Martine added.

Tom Kirwan's niece Carly Johnson, 10, with headteacher Sophia Mulrooney

The school is also dedicated to building on Tom's legacy, and will carry out a project on the impact of knife crime once the children have finished their SATs.

Martine said: "They'll use Tom as an example and talk about things to avoid such as peer pressure and gangs.

"I've asked them if they've looked into having a bleed kit at the school as obviously they can be life-saving.

"The school is situated on Graiseley Lane so you've got the pub, the blocks of flats, the park behind it, you've got plenty of areas where trouble could happen really, so it could become something the area needs."

It's a bittersweet moment for Martine and her family as they approach the 10th anniversary of Tom's death on July 8.

Martine said: "It's mixed emotions, obviously, knowing that he used to be in that primary school and played in the football team, and now his niece is.

"There's not much we can get from Tom being gone so we're focusing on the little things that can keep his memory living on.

"I still remember the phone call and I still remember going to the hospital that morning.

"I can't believe it's been 10 years because the memory's so fresh still, and I can't believe it's been 10 years and we still haven't got any answers."

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