ANGRY friends of tragic Aleysha Rothwell claim they were told to remove flowers left at Bolton St Catherine’s Academy after Friday night’s vigil — or they would be binned.
Girlfriend Beth Lees and friend Morgan Pritchard were left devastated when it was discovered the 16-year-old had hanged herself on Thursday.
They were further upset at the weekend after being told that the tributes left by more than 300 of her friends were not permitted at the school.
The Friday evening vigil, which had started at Home Bargains in Bury Road, Breightmet, saw flowers, lanterns, teddies, notes and balloons taken up to the academy in Stitch Mi Lane and laid out in memory of their friend.
But on Saturday, Beth went back to pay her respects and found that the flowers had been taken to another location to keep safe after a member of staff had reportedly said that everything would be thrown away if left there over the weekend.
Beth said: “I’m fuming. We feel like we are not being taken seriously and being brushed aside like it isn’t important. We feel totally let down by the school.
“We arranged the get-together on Friday to take up the flowers and teddies up to the school and we were overwhelmed by the support it gained. We all laid them neatly out at the entrance and lit the lanterns.
“But then on Saturday I came back and all the flowers had moved. I was told that they were going to be binned if they were still there on the Monday so a friend, Ellen Hammond, who has been really helpful and supportive, took them into her back garden to keep them safe until Monday.”
Cllr Linda Rothwell, who is on the board of governors at Bolton St Catherine’s Academy, said: “This is the first I have heard about the flowers and I am very shocked that this has happened. I will be investigating this myself.”
Beth also revealed that she believed that the death of her girlfriend of five months could have been prevented if her severe episode of self harming earlier in the week was taken seriously. Aleysha was found dead at her home in Crossdale Road, Breightmet, on Thursday afternoon.
Beth said: “We could tell that something had been bubbling for the last few weeks. She said that she had a voice in her head telling her to harm herself.
“On Tuesday, two days before she died, I had to bandage her up because she had hurt herself so badly. I had never seen anything like it. She had pretty much stopped doing it since she started living with her foster mum Bev, who really helped build her confidence over the last couple of years. I rang the NHS helpline and they sent an ambulance. But at the hospital they told her that she was just having a bad day as if she was attention seeking. If they had taken her seriously I think she would still be alive.
“She was supposed to be in school on the Wednesday but when she didn’t turn up I started to panic a bit, but she had a habit of going off on long walks by herself and not speaking to anyone for a day.
“Then I received an email on the Thursday from her best friend saying that there was an ambulance at Aleysha’s house. That’s when I knew she’d done it — she’d finally had enough.”
The two friends praised everyone who came to the vigil and donated to Aleysha’s collection, which raised £930.
Morgan said: “We don’t want Aleysha’s name to fade away with time so we will be doing some more fundraisers for her soon, including a walk to the Reebok Stadium on Wednesday where we will be collecting for her again.
“We raised £930 on Friday night, which is incredible. We are going to put it towards a headstone for Aleysha and a bench with a plaque for her.
“We really appreciate all the donations and support we have received from everyone so far.”