Pupils in song tribute to tragic friend Keane

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CLASSMATES of a girl killed by a collapsing wall at her school have recorded a poignant song in her honour to raise funds for a memorial garden.

The dedicated track pays tribute to Keane Wallis-Bennett, 12, who died when a free-standing wall fell on top of her while changing for PE at Liberton High School.

Front, from left, Megan O'Hara, Teri Mason, Ellie Graham and Mya Arnot join their classmates to record the song for Keane. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Front, from left, Megan O'Hara, Teri Mason, Ellie Graham and Mya Arnot join their classmates to record the song for Keane. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Dubbed Keane’s Song, it is hoped the three-minute anthem – to be launched on iTunes – will reap thousands of pounds to contribute towards a garden in the campus dedicated to the S1 pupil.

Composed of simple lyrics describing everyday moments, the song has been written to celebrate Keane’s life and help the Liberton community move on from the tragedy on April 1.

David McNeish, probationer minister at Liberton Kirk, co-wrote the tribute alongside 20 pupils – many of them close friends of Keane.

“I think it’s a heartfelt song that just expresses the life and vitality of a young girl,” he said.

Keane Wallis-Bennett. Picture: contributed

Keane Wallis-Bennett. Picture: contributed

“And I think it’s the very ordinary details that make it so heart-wrenching.”

The idea was hatched in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy by pupils visiting Liberton Northfield Church.

They were paying their respects during a week-long vigil in the church and discovered the minister strumming his guitar.

“I was playing when there was no-one there and [the pupils] said ‘don’t stop’,” said Rev McNeish. “The song began there and then. None of us really knew what it was that we were doing.

“It just started to flow and everyone was just throwing in different things. We got about half of it done, took a break, came back two or three hours later and had another go. It was written by the end of the day.”

The song was performed during a balloon-raising ceremony later that week, leaving Keane’s family so moved they requested a repeat for her funeral on April 17.

Liberton pupils hope that by recording and posting the song on iTunes, it will become a cherished memento as well as a fundraising tool.

“There are three reasons for recording the song,” said Rev McNeish. “The first was to give Keane’s family [something] that they could keep. The second was for the children who are recording it – that they would have a copy of the song.

“And then we thought that if we get the song together, we could use it to raise funds for the memorial fund for Keane. There’s been a proposal for a memorial garden, and all the plans aren’t finalised yet, but to be able to raise some money towards that memory we thought would be a great way of using the song.”

Parent leaders at the school recently revealed pupils had suffered sleep loss, depression, claustrophobia and thoughts of suicide following the tragedy.

But classmates said the experience of producing Keane’s Song had provided a boost.

Teri Mason, 12, now in S2 at Liberton, said: “The situation’s been hard with losing Keane – all of her close friends are missing her. This song is helping because it brings back good memories.”

Headteacher Stephen Kelly 
said: “It’s not a morbid thing. It’s not youngsters who are stuck in the moment – it’s youngsters who want to remember their friend in the most positive way. We’ve been blown away by the community response in support of the school. They’ve been fantastic.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com