Children devastated by the death of their fellow pupil have left touching messages to express their loss.
Paresh Patel, 43, of Hutton, near Preston, was heartbroken when his four-year-old son Jai died in a deliberate flat fire on Merseyside earlier last month.
Jai’s mother, Janma Joshi, 40, also died in the blaze. Investigations are continuing but police are satisfied Ms Joshi deliberately set light to the flat.
Jai’s death has deeply affected youngsters at Howick CE Primary School in Penwortham and teachers and pupils at the close-knit school are mourning his loss.
As a tribute to Jai, his schoolmates created their own messages for their Prayer Tree as well as writing condolences to his family in a special memory book.
A tree in the school’s wooded area has also been used as a focus for flowers and cuddly toys in memory of Jai.
Deborah Bramley, headteacher at Howick CE Primary School, said: “Jai’s death has had a profound effect on all of us at Howick.
“We are a small school and the children talk about us being a big family and that’s how it feels – that we have lost a family member.
“We feel privileged to have worked with Jai and are thankful that he has left us with so many happy memories.
“Jai always tried his best, wanted to please his teachers, sang and made his classmates giggle, always smiled and always was our friend.
“To help the children both come to terms with Jai’s loss and express their feelings about him we gave them each a paper leaf on which they could write a prayer or a thought for Jai. In a special assembly, they came forward in turn to place their leaf at the foot of our Prayer Tree in the assembly hall. At the end of the day, when the children had gone, the staff came together to tie the leaves on to the tree.
“Among the many happy memories and lovely prayers, one of our pupils had written ‘The best things come in small packages and Jai was our small package’. This summed up perfectly how we felt about Jai. It was a very moving.”
She added: “We’ve also had a memory book in school in which both parents and children have written and we’ve passed this on to Jai’s father so he can read it when he feels able.”
Jai’s dad Paresh Patel said: “I was very touched by the memory book and the beautiful messages on the leaves to Jai. One child had described Jai as ‘Jai Direction’ instead of One Direction as he was always singing. Reading these messages brings me to tears, but it is lovely to see how highly thought of Jai was at his school where he was so happy.
“The school has been extremely supportive.”