Head Teacher Ms D. Fellowes
Its a privilidge to celebrate the life of Devante and make a tribute, my name is Di Fellowes and I'mm the headteacher of Lyndon School in Solihull. I want to share some memories of Devante, as students spend so much time of their life in school, and we've got some really special memories of Devante and I want to give you a glimpse of his days at Lyndon.
Devante started his school career of life at West House Boys School, then going onto Stanville. He was a happy, bright lad and a charmer is the word that comes to mind, with a mischieveous grin and a very clever and witty sence of humour. When he came to Lyndon within the first few days he made a group of special friends and they began to refer to themselves as the 5 musketeers, say no more. Tom Meads who was one of them summed Devante up beautifully and simply 'he was the best friend you could ever have'.
When Anne Newman who is our head of year 7 visited Devante and his friends at Stanville she noticed he had a rare nag of not just being able to converse with people of all ages, but to make them feel better about themselves, perhaps it was his smile, you all know that smile, we know...'that smile, it lit up his whole face, it started in his eyes, then you knew he was gonna come out with some clever witty comment. Devante certainly wasn't shy in that first meeting and Anne referred to him as 'he could be quite a comic'. During Annes visit to Stanville Devantes friends had a quiet word with her and said that he was ill, however, when Devante was asked how he felt his response was typical, very short very calm "i'm fine".
Devante always had that reaction in school about his illness, he was brave, he was modest, but he made sure that other people didnt feel uncomfortable around him. Devante was a bright, intelligent lad and he was identified as gifted and tallented right from the word go. He hated the fact that he couldnt be there to start his 1st academic year at Lyndon, however, he had a steaming determination that he knew that he was going to get into school and he was determined to make his mark and boy did he make his mark on us.
Our year 7 office, available to students to come into if they are upset or if they need some support or some guidance, want someone to talk to and quite often students would turn up and have a bit of a moan about a cut finger or a grazed knee, sometimes they had to have a bit of a telling off in there as well, but Devante never, ever, made an appearance in that office to moan, to ask for help or to feel sorry for himself, in fact the only time Devante was there, was there to support others when he knew he needed to be a friend, when he knew somebody needed him to support them. So many of Devantes friends have been affected by him in some way or another and im sure they will carry the memory of his friendship forever and that is something to treasure.
Perhaps one of the most telling things about Devante, his life and attitude towards it, is his, BBM status - smiley face, followed by a crying face, followed by another smiley face, meaning im laughing so much that im crying then im laughing again...and he would make girls laugh so much they cried...and then he bought the smiles...leaving us now with the tears, but dont cry instead treasure those memories. When the girls asked him how he was feeling? "Im fine, how are you? he was a right charmer. Ashleigh and Devante became particularly close having fun and sharing laughter and in her words 'he is the sweetest boy ive ever met'.
Sharing fun and laughter is exactly what we did at Lyndon. In May we did a surprise birthday party for Devante and the room was full to the brim with students, it got very, very hot and so much so, that some of my colleagues decided to tell students that they could take their ties off, undo their top buttons and relax a bit. So they took their ties off, tied them around their heads and started dancing around. We are really strict on uniform at Lyndon, and when I walked in all the students froze and I looked at them and completely ignored it and they just took that as actual permission to carry on and dance, and the best part of that was that Devante felt so at ease that he took his cap off and that was the only time we ever saw him without it on. It was wonderful to see Devante having fun and having the opportunity to share it with his friends. On one of the visits when Mrs newman went to see Devante at the childrens hospital, he was really adament and absolutely firm that he wanted to be a part off our 60th anniversary celebration. We were having a fancy dress on the thursday before he sadly passed away, and he wanted to be involved in it so much so he gave orders to the staff what he wanted them to wear. Mrs martin and Mrs newman were told they had to go in hotpants, they didnt and I was absolutely disgusted with them.
When Devante was in school physically he was there with us and he will always be a part of our family in the school. On the friday when Devante passed away we were preparing for our 60th anniversary concert and many of Devantes friends were sat out there performing the rehearsals, when we had to share the devastating news. Things were halted as the students took time to begin to come to terms with the sad news they had heard about Devante, their devastation was clear to see and I realised that they were going to struggle to do that concert I was on the blink of cancelling it, and one of the students stood up and said 'no' Devante wouldnt want this, Devante would want us to carry on, we will do it for him and carry on they did, they did a superb performance, some with tears streaming but they did it in honour of Devante and that shows the impact that young man has had on all his friends and teachers at Lyndon and he is special.
He has touched so many lives within a short time and its been a privilidge to have had the opportunity to share in a small way his life with him. God Bless You Devante R.I.P 05/10/12.
RIP Devante 05/10/12