Bury school remembers brave heart transplant pupil

Gareth Barham, centre, with his brother Harry and sister Hannah
Gareth Barham, centre, with his brother Harry and sister Hannah
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Gareth Barham, a former pupil of Bury St Edmunds County Upper, school has died nine years after having a heart transplant as a teenager.

The current sixth form at his old school have donated £200 raised with a production of the play ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author’ by Luigi Pirandello to the British Heart Foundation in memory of Gareth, who was buried in Northumberland last week.

Gareth’s father Peter was a canon at St Edmundsbury Cathedral when the 14-year-old had a heart transplant at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in 2004.

The following year his courage was recognised with a Diana Princess of Wales Award.

County Upper pupils also gave a sizable donation to the hospital in their annual Christmas charity fund raiser.

Gareth, his brother Harry and sister Hannah, moved to Northumberland with their parents Peter and Julie, where Peter is vicar of Ponteland near Newcastle.

The family say his health had been giving cause for concern since the summer and he was admitted to Freeman Hospita, Newcastle, where he died on Boxing Day.

Rev Barham said: “It is nine years since his heart transplant, and most of that time has not been dominated by hospitals.

“We celebrate his graduation, his moving into his own home, his pleasure at driving (just one speeding fine), his trips abroad, his jobs, his wicked sense of humour, computer games, board games, Monopoly and Lego ... above all his love for

his brother Theo and the rest of us.”

Theo, born after the family moved, died four years ago aged two.

County Upper head Vicky Neale said the donation from the sixth form play was fitting because Gareth had loved drama at school.

“He was a lovely lad and he was so brave during the transplant,” she recalled. Harry and Hannah were also pupils there.

Gareth graduated from Newcastle College with a foundation degree in computer gaming. In his ‘Northernvicar’s Blog’ Rev Barham recalls the active part Gareth played in church life both in Bury, where he was a cathedral chorister, and Ponteland where he was involved with the choir, drama ‘practical jobs’ and as a verger at Hexham Abbey.

Rev Barham finshed: “Thanks, my Son, for 24 years of life together.”

Mourners at his funeral donated £2,248 in his memory to the British Heart Foundation. Donations in his memory can be made at the BHF website where the fund currenty stands at more than £2,000.