Permanent memorial planned for Mikaeel Kular

A vigil was held in West Pilton Park. Pic: Jane Barlow

A vigil was held in West Pilton Park. Pic: Jane Barlow

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A PERMANENT memorial to three-year-old Mikaeel Kular is set to be created in the community that took the tragic youngster to its heart.

Hundreds of city residents in the Drylaw area and beyond took to the streets for hours in freezing temperatures as they searched in vain for the child, who was reported missing on Thursday morning.

Brian Stoddart, 10, from Muirhouse, waiting to get into the church. Pic: Jane Barlow

Brian Stoddart, 10, from Muirhouse, waiting to get into the church. Pic: Jane Barlow

The community has been devastated by news of Mikaeel’s death, announced in the early hours of Saturday morning, but plans are already afoot to ensure his short life is never forgotten.

The Tenants and Residents In Muirhouse group (TRIM) has already established collections in shops in the area, with any cash raised earmarked to pay for a

lasting tribute.

The fund was set up as hundreds continued to leave tributes yesterday, with a park around the corner from Mikaeel’s Ferry Gait Crescent home transformed into a shrine, with a carpet of soft toys, flowers, candles and heartfelt messages left.

Picture by JANE BARLOW. 18th January 2014. A vigil was held in West Pilton Park, Edinburgh in memory of three-year-old Mikaeel Kular, who's body is believed to have been found in Fife today after he was missing for three days.

Picture by JANE BARLOW. 18th January 2014. A vigil was held in West Pilton Park, Edinburgh in memory of three-year-old Mikaeel Kular, who's body is believed to have been found in Fife today after he was missing for three days.

Robert Pearson, chair of TRIM, said: “The plan is to allow residents to donate money if they wish. We’ll then sit down with tenants, residents and other agencies to decide what’s the best and most sustainable thing, at the moment we have no idea what that will be, but we will do something.

“Initially we were going to hold off, but we had several messages from people who have been talking about fundraising and we wanted to give a central point.

“People want to remember Mikaeel. How we do that comes down to what locals want for the wee one.”

An inscription on a stone, a tree and a bench overlooking a children’s play park are among the ideas that have so far been

suggested.

Members of the public continued to pour into the field close to Mikaeel’s home, with some coming to leave their own tribute while others arrived to quietly reflect on the tragedy while taking in the countless messages of support.

Police watched over the solemn scene, with one officer remarking that the force was keen to build on the close bond built up between the force and the community in recent days.

Mum-of-three Angela Reed, 37, travelled from Carrick Knowe with her nine-year-old son, Leo Collins. Leo, whose grandmother lives in the north Edinburgh area, had been out searching for Mikaeel alongside hundreds of others who were desperate to see him return home safely.

He left a colourful picture, including a drawing of Mikaeel alongside the words “please come back”.

Upon hearing the news on Saturday morning that Mikaeel’s body had been discovered, Angela, like so many others, was left heartbroken.

“I was just crying and in shock,” she said. “I can’t believe it. I have a five-year-old as well and you can’t help but think of your own kids.

“I’m just thinking about all the poor people and the time the police spent out searching. Then for it to end like this is awful but it has showed real community spirit.”

Catherine Chilcott, of nearby Muirhouse Park, said she had experienced trouble sleeping since learning of Mikaeel’s death.

“We didn’t know him, but he’s a wee angel,” the 72-year-old said. “I keep waking up at night and I see the boy. It’s so sad, he was only a little baby. I’m thinking about

his siblings, what must they be thinking?

“Muirhouse has a bad name but something like this shows how this community can come together. The angels are looking after him now.”

Children, little older than Mikaeel’s tender years, punctuated the sombre mood with laughter and expressions of innocent curiosity.

Perhaps they had been kept in the dark about the true horror of the weekend’s events or maybe they were too young to comprehend the tragedy.

Either way, the poignancy of their presence, and a realisation of what had been lost, was impossible to ignore.

One tribute read: “Took from this earth too soon. But you’re with the angels now. You’ll always be remembered.” Another said: “Sleep tight Mikaeel. Always in our thoughts wee man. Heaven has gained a new angel.”

Another, echoing a familiar sentiment said “I only wish we could have found you safe and sound,” before posing the question an entire city has been searching for an answer to: “Why?”.

Hearts and Hibs memorabilia was placed side by side, alongside a Celtic scarf, emblazoned with the words “you’ll never walk alone”.

Kenneth Brant, 46, had a large brace on his leg but that had not stopped him looking in streets and gardens for Mikaeel. He had brought a teddy to lay at the site.

“I’m gutted, it’s search a cruel world to see someone so young that never lived,” he said. “I didn’t know the wee boy, but it’s the fact that it’s a wee boy. It’s so sad.”

Another visitor, who had been out searching for Mikaeel until 5:30am on Friday morning and rejoined the party 12 hours later, was still struggling to come to terms with his death.

“I really believed there would be a happy ending,” she said. “I felt like he was my pal. Now he’s gone off to play with the angels.”

Balloons float skywards in silent tribute

HUNDREDS of balloons were released into the sky as a stunned community paid tribute to three-year-old Mikaeel Kular

Locals and search volunteers rocked to the core by the news of his death gathered in West Pilton Park on Saturday to pay their respects and join together in an attempt to come to terms with the tragic circumstances that have unfolded around them.

More than 200 people attended, each armed with a balloon and a heavy heart. They said he had now become a “child of the community”.

Organiser Kelly Harper, 37, from Pennywell, organised the mass gathering via Facebook and within hours hundreds had confirmed their attendance.

She told the crowd: “Here we all are under sad circumstances to say goodbye to an innocent wee boy who is now flying high with the angels.I know some people are angry, hurt and upset but we are not here to speculate on anything, we are simply here to say goodbye to a wee angel.”

In the countdown to the release of dozens of brightly coloured balloons, she added: “If we can let the balloons go and send our love to the sky to be with Mikaeel.”

Following the release and outpouring of grief an impromptu candlelit vigil then began on the grass featuring hundreds of candlelights and lanterns.

Fellow local resident, Abbie Bain, 26, summed up the feelings of the local community when she stated: “He may have been that family’s boy but from now on and forever he will be this community’s boy.”

This was echoed by June Hoy, 52, who had spent two days searching for three-year old, Mikaeel. She said: “He’s a local boy and really only a wee baby. I just wanted to come here to pay my respects and say goodbye to a child that we didn’t really know.”

Afterwards about a mile away, hundreds of people queued to attend a memorial service at Muirhouse St Andrew’s Church. close to Mikaeel‘s home at Ferry Gait Crescent.

Michaedl Nowicki, 35, from Wardieburn, said he took his five year old son to the service because he had been so moved by Mikaeel’s death and the “sense of togetherness” it brought to the community.