Dozens of teachers and school children have paid an emotional tribute to a young boy who died after a long battle with a heart condition.
Gerrard Somers, 6, from Sheddocksley, passed away at the end of April after his incurable heart defect worsened.
His funeral was held yesterday and mourners from his school and the wider community gathered outside the building to say their farewells as his cortege passed by.
Children released balloons and tied ribbons on to the Kingsford Primary School fence to say farewell to Gerrard as he passed the school for the final time.
Gerrard was well-known in his local community as the boy who always had a smile on his face, and his family have also paid tribute to their fun-loving little lad.
‘He was just the happiest little boy’
He had spent much of the last year shielding from the coronavirus pandemic, but Gerrard’s heartbroken grandmother Wilma Mann says he never let the isolation or his health troubles get him down.
“I don’t think I ever saw him not smiling,” she said. “He was just the happiest little boy.
“He loved a party, they were his favourite, and we would have parties at Halloween, birthdays and for Easter.
“Obviously it was only ever a couple of us who were there because he was shielding, but he was always so excited and loved making sure everyone was having fun.
“He liked to be busy. Every day he’d get up and say ‘what’s the plan?’.
“There were always so many things he liked to do and see, though laterally he didn’t have the energy for a lot of it, sadly.”
‘He overcame so many hurdles in his life’
Gerrard was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital defect in which the left side of the heart is underdeveloped.
“The only way I can explain it is that he only had one ventricle, he only had half a heart,” Wilma, 68, said.
“But he overcame so many hurdles in his life, he really was an incredible little boy.”
Though his condition had been gradually worsening, Gerrard’s death was sudden on April 25 and came as a shock.
“We weren’t sure how much time he had left but it ended up being a lot less than we were expecting,” Wilma said.
“He arrived back in Aberdeen on Saturday afternoon (from seeing specialists in Glasgow) and I went to visit him in the evening.
“Then I got a call on Sunday from his parents saying that he was gone… I couldn’t believe it.”
Gerrard’s younger years were marked by several major surgeries including a tracheostomy, which makes a hole from the neck into the windpipe to help patients breathe through a tube.
Despite his health difficulties, Gerrard’s mum Lynne Mann and dad Barry Somers were keen for their son to lead as normal a life as possible.
The family of three were always out at the park and visiting soft play centres across the city.
Gerrard also loved animals.
“He loved to feed the horses opposite Dobbies,” said Wilma, who lives in Mastrick.
“If I ever said I was going shopping he’d write me a shopping list asking for a magazine and some carrots for the horses so we could go and feed them.
“He was such a happy boy, everybody knew him at the local shops and pharmacy we used to go to.
“It’s really difficult – I just don’t know what to say… It’s all the funny little things which have been popping into my mind.
“Like, he hated broccoli. Absolutely detested it. When we were picking his school dinner menus for the week he’d say ‘No! I don’t like broccoli!’” Wilma laughed.
‘He was a bright star, always sparkling’
She said Gerrard never let his health condition slow him down if he could help it.
She added: “We always knew how serious it was, but he was so brave with everything he went through.
“He was a bright star, always sparkling.”
Gerrard was a pupil at Kingsford Primary School, where he was well-liked by teachers and classmates.
Headteacher Audrey Walker said: “Gerrard joined Kingsford nursery in April of 2018. From the moment he started with us, his bravery, determination and great sense of humour shone through.
“In class, he loved listening to stories and was always drawing pictures of his family and making things to take home. His scissor skills were fantastic and you could always tell where he had been working by the trail of multi-coloured confetti!
“All the P1 children, most of whom had known him throughout nursery, were protective of their friend and looked out for him.
“They are a caring group who missed Gerrard when he had appointments in Glasgow and Newcastle and were always so happy to see him back at school.
“As a staff, we admired the bravery of Lynne and Barry to let Gerrard live his life so fully, despite the challenges he faced.
“They resisted the temptation to keep him wrapped in cotton wool and, as a result, Gerrard had a wonderful time in nursery and P1.
“We all miss him desperately but feel incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to get to know this wonderful, wonderful boy.”