“The sweetest, loveliest, most intelligent boy” was how Zoe Barnes described her young brother at an emotional memorial service this afternoon (Monday).
There was neither an empty seat nor a dry eye at the service for Pierre Barnes at All Saints Church in Barrowby, attended by family and friends of the young boy.
Pierre died aged 12 in a tragic accident on the island of Porquerolles, southern France, earlier this month. He was holidaying with his parents Stephen and Florence, and siblings Zoe, 17, Desmond, 15, and Clemence, 13, when he went out alone on a bike ride. He failed to return to the holiday home rented by the Grantham family, of Barrowby Road. Search teams found his body at on the seabed five days later.
At the memorial service today, teachers, schoolfriends and family talked about the “happy” life of Pierre and of how he touched the lives of so many.
Headteacher of Barrowby Primary School Len Batey welcomed everyone gathered, and went on to say: “Pierre was an inquisitive, fun-loving character who will be missed by all of us here in Barrowby.”
Former headteacher Sylvia West got to know Pierre well during his three years at the school, before retiring in the summer.
She said: “Pierre showed many qualities. He was determined to do well academically and he was passionate about passing the 11+ so he could go to King’s School for his secondary education. When he achieved that, he was rightly extremely proud of himself and so was I. He worked very hard.”
Mrs West shared many memories of Pierre, from his eagerness to correct her in school assemblies to the day he gave her a lovely letter as she retired, in which he referred to her “awesomeness”.
She added: “For Pierre, the cup was always half full and never half empty.”
Several teachers talked about his thirst for knowledge, love of drama and his remarkable mind, with Mrs West saying she had thought he would become an eminent historian.
The gathering sang two of Pierre’s favourite songs, ‘Give Me Oil In My Lamp’ and ‘If I Had A Hammer’, during the hour-long service, and also listened to a CD of singing by pupils of Barrowby Primary School.
Two of his close friends also stood to say a few words, fighting through their tears to pay tribute to their good friend to say: “Although we’re putting on a brave face we’re devastated.”