Over 200 pupils lined the road outside their secondary school in Harborough to pay their final respects to much-loved schoolboy Jim McCann

They bowed their heads as the funeral procession drove by the school on an emotional day

By Red Williams
Friday, 28th May 2021, 5:19 pm
Youngsters and staff slowly filed out of Welland Park Academy to bow their heads in a last poignant salute to Year 9 pupil Jim McCann, 14, as he was carried along Welland Park Road one last time.
Youngsters and staff slowly filed out of Welland Park Academy to bow their heads in a last poignant salute to Year 9 pupil Jim McCann, 14, as he was carried along Welland Park Road one last time.

Over 200 pupils turned out to line a busy road outside their secondary school in Market Harborough to pay their final respects to a much-loved schoolboy as his funeral procession drove past them.

Youngsters and staff slowly filed out of Welland Park Academy to bow their heads in a last poignant salute to Year 9 pupil Jim McCann 14, as he was carried along Welland Park Road one last time.

Hundreds more mourners gathered in the rain outside Our Lady of Victories Roman Catholic Church on Fairfield Road, Market Harborough, to give Jim an emotional send-off.

The teenager was laid to rest after his tragic sudden death on Thursday May 6 has shocked the 960-strong Welland Park Academy.

The school’s principal Julie McBrearty told the Harborough Mail: “It was a very emotional day for all of us here at Welland Park Academy.

“Jim was a larger than life character and he was universally liked by students and staff alike.

“His sudden death at the age of just 14 is truly tragic.

“We have been working closely with his parents and his family all the way through this.

“They asked if some of our youngsters could come out on the day of his funeral to pay their last respects to Jim because they obviously couldn’t all get into the church.

“Over 200 students in his year group came out to line up along Welland Park Road at about 12 midday.

“Staff came out as well along with local residents who wanted to salute Jim in their own special way.

“Our students did both Jim and our school proud.

“The youngsters behaved impeccably.

“They were so respectful and reverential,” said Julie.

“I am sure that it helped some of our children cope with their grief following Jim’s passing.

“It also allowed them to say a final farewell to their good mate Jim, he was such a popular boy here.

“We also presented special cards of condolence to Jim’s parents.

“They told us that they have been truly overwhelmed by the massive wave of support that they have received from our school and the entire community here in Market Harborough.

“We have given them all of Jim’s books and schoolwork to take home and as you can imagine it’s been an extremely emotional few weeks.”

Julie said she went on to Jim’s funeral service at the nearby Our Lady of Victories Church with the tragic youngster’s form teacher and a fellow member of staff.

“We couldn’t get in to the church itself, it was full.

“Hundreds of people gathered outside the church that afternoon, there was an enormous turn-out,” said Julie.

“Jim’s older brother has just finished here as he’s a Year 11 pupil.

“He’s also got a sister here with us.

“They both seem to be coping so far and we have been giving them all the support that we can.

“Jim was one of our own.

“We have pulled out all of the stops to get behind his grieving parents and family and to support his friends here as well as all of our students as much as we can.

“We have invested huge effort and resources in counselling and mental health support here over the last few years and it’s paying off.

“Jim was a popular young man here, so happy, always smiling, and we will miss the spring in his step and his cheery infectious smile so much,” added Julie.

She wrote to the shocked parents of their 960 students to tell them that Jim had died earlier this month.

In her letter to parents and carers, Julie wrote: “Support is available in school to all students and this will continue as additional support may be required over coming weeks.

“Your child may react in different ways to this sad news.

“These reactions and feelings may be part of the grieving process. “Many young people will wish to talk to parents or someone else about their feelings.

“We will be talking to our students about this in groups to acknowledge what has happened - and to signpost the extensive support available within school and through external sources,” said Julie.

“We must remind our young people that all of us should seek help from others when we feel vulnerable or overwhelmed - and to seek help from an adult if they are worried about themselves or a friend.

“If you feel your child requires additional support, please speak to their form tutor in the first instance.

“Parents can also access online support through the following links:

https://www.childbereavementuk.orghttps://www.cruse.org.ukhttps://www.ianschain.co.uk https://www.kooth.com“We can assure you that we will continue working to provide appropriate support for students, parents / carers and staff at this difficult and sensitive time.

Jim’s heartbroken mum Zoe McCann set out to raise £4,000 for the Intensive Care Unit at Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI) after ICU staff battled to save the critically ill youngster’s life.

And she has smashed her target, raising a stunning £5,667 for the LRI by the evening of Friday May 28.

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School on Coventry Road, Market Harborough, has just donated £332 alone after staging a fundraising non-uniform day.

“God bless you Jim, rest in eternal peace,” said the school.

Julie told the Mail: “Jim’s parents are very grateful for the treatment that he received at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

“His mum Zoe was determined to raise this money for the wonderful staff at the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit and she’s done brilliantly with the whole community rallying to help.”

Paying tribute to “her beautiful” son Jim, Zoe says on her gofundme page: “As many of you are aware our beautiful son BabyJim sadly passed away on 06.05.2021 aged just 14.

“We would like to raise money in his memory to donate to the amazing intensive care unit at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

“And as I have been informed that some people were wanting ways to help out I thought this would be the best way to organise it.

“BabyJim was loved by so many people and it is really showing with the amount of support we are receiving, so thank you from our whole family we really do appreciate it.”

If you would like to boost the amount she’s already raised even more, you can visit Zoe’s fundraising page here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-babyjim-mccannYou can read our story breaking the news of Jim’s tragic death here: https://www.harboroughmail.co.uk/news/people/harborough-community-shocked-by-the-tragic-sudden-death-of-a-popular-14-year-old-school-pupil-heres-how-you-can-help-raise-funds-in-his-memory-3230726