Mr Brown was asked to say some words about Chloe at the celebration of her life, Mark and I were truly touched with the sincerity in which he spoke, and the memories that he shared...We thank him for his heartfelt words.
Chloe and I started our new school on the same day seven years ago. Over the years we had some great wee chats; lots of happy stories and fascinating ideas about arts and crafts, the 'do's and don'ts' of nail painting, Egyptian Mysteries, things I didn't know about Space, the secrets of face painting and how come Jacqueline Wilson was just so brilliant!
But this past year and past week, on reflecting upon Chloe's illness and her passing away; "There's no words. No words to describe losing her," seemed to be all I could say. "What can you say? No words are enough".
Then Elaine and Mark asked me to speak here today about Chloe's time at Annick Primary. And when I really thought about her time in our school, "No words," suddenly became, "a million words". A million words appreciating the time we had to share with this special wee girl.
Chloe first caught my eye early on in P1 when her Reading Baseline score came to me - 136 no less! The top mark in the class by some margin. "Aye, aye," I said, "Must be a teacher's wean!" And sure enough! I'm certain you helped too Mark!
Mrs Chalmers, Chloe's P1 teacher was back in the school last month for the first time in a number of years and met Chloe. She remembered a bright, reserved and smiling wee girl who was so keen to do her best- and she remembered very proud parents.
In P2 and P3 Chloe continued to grow - to form close friendships and to impress everyone around her. Always polite and well mannered, Chloe had a very caring nature and, as her confidence grew, she loved to help with the younger children - a quality that never left her. Chloe's keen sense of humour matched her sparkling eyes - eyes that always gave away exactly what she was thinking. But it was in P4 that Mrs McCrindle’s inspirational topics really captured Chloe's imagination. Cleopatra and Ancient Egypt, then playing Mrs Twit to everyone's delight! Mum learned so much from Chloe at that time that she was able to teach the same topics to the children at Dalry Primary! And what a team! "Team McNeil", would put the Blue Peter lot to shame- making models, sketches, cakes, more models, paintings, fancy biscuits, presentations, and....even bigger models! Elaine and Mark turned into the Valerie Singleton and Peter Purves of Girdle Toll.
In P5 Chloe's interest of all things IT came to the fore with Mrs Crawford. GLOW, our newfangled on-line Educational Network was being pioneered and Chloe was always ready to help the teachers when they got stuck! Of course, she was awarded our new ICT Trophy at Prizegiving and shone as Mrs Crawford's "Glowing Girl!".
P6 saw Chloe's personality really start to blossom at school. She often brightened up Mrs Callendar's day with funny stories and always had the ability to laugh at herself. Chloe was very creative and really began to focus on "fashion". However this included noticing everything that the teachers wore. She reckoned Mondays and Tuesdays were dull fashion days for staff at school, but that things picked up a bit as the weekend approached! Her P6 Cow fascination, which included wearing Friesian patterned socks, probably inspired the staff to buck up their ideas!
Chloe really began to show her potential during this period- she excelled at gymnastics, bringing her recognition across North Ayrshire. Her ICT presentations went from strength to strength - fantastic, high-end work.
However, Chloe wasn't too keen on maths and had a right good go at trying to persuade Mrs Callander to cancel it altogether! I think that my name was mentioned in Suzanne's reply! But, even in maths, Chloe's effort was always 100% and this of course brought her a main prize at Prizegiving for her outstanding efforts.
Whether it was a pink limo at Christmas, or secret "Twilight" reading sessions in class or even face painting at Dalry Primary, this wee girl stood out as a big personality, full of fun, charm and talent.
I remember saying to Mark and Elaine at a P6 Parents Evening, and not for the first time, "I wish I had a whole school like her," she was a wee cracker! Teachers aren't supposed to have favourites and they work very hard to treat everyone the same - but it is difficult. A troubled background or a disability or, as in Chloe's case, spectacular disarming charm. This was Chloe from first day to last- delicate as a butterfly, sweet as a cup cake.
And then the shock news at the start of P7. Chloe's teachers Mrs Kay and Miss Ryrie, together with everyone else, were continually humbled by the courage, resolution and great spirit shown by Chloe over the school year. Our school motto is, "Learning, Caring, Sharing". Chloe certainly lived up to this ideal and inspired others to understand the true meaning behind these words. "Learning - Caring - Sharing - Inspiring".
Everyone here will know how popular Chloe was with her peers at school - she was loved by everyone who met her. She had built up very strong bonds with a close group of girls in her class. They would say that she was a very loyal and caring friend who always stood up for things that mattered. I have been very proud of my P7s this year and I am sure Chloe's great friendships were a great strength to her. She deserved the best friends in the world and I think that she got them.
Last week when I had "No Words", I looked out Chloe's annual report cards to find some words I had previously written about her. At the end of P5 I wrote: "A lovely girl, Chloe continues to impress all around her. She brings an excellent attitude to school each morning". And in P6: "Another super year for Chloe! She has continued to present a first class attitude towards all of the demands made of her. Chloe's work can be quite excellent. She is an asset to this school - "Well Done! Lovely girl - Impress all, Excellent attitude, Another super year, First class attitude, An asset to the school". And these types of words were used by all of Chloe's teachers in all her reports. It is good to know, and some comfort, that we all recognised the kind of person Chloe was, and that we can look back and be confident that we appreciated what we had. Mrs Callendar's final comment that year was, "It has been a pleasure to have Chloe in my class". Today we can certainly appreciate Chloe's return comment a year ago - typically personal, delicate and sweet: "Thank you so much Miss Adam, this has been one of my best years at Annick. I will miss you a lot!".
It was a joy and a privilege to have known Chloe - every single person at our school would say exactly the same thing. She was a beautiful wee girl in every way. My difficulty finding the words to come to terms with her loss has been helped by none other than Jacqueline Wilson, Chloe's favourite author and new friend. In the brilliantly touching children's book, "Vicky Angel", the very last sentence reads, "We have one last long hug and then, as Mum and Dad catch up, Vicky leaps into the air. She flaps wings as white as swansdown, waves one last time, and flies away".
Elaine and Mark, Chloe was a fantastic wee girl. She has flown away from us now but everyone at our wee school will always miss your wee girl, your wee Angel, very, very much.
Stuart Brown 25/6/11