Adele’s short life inspires pastoral award legacy for schools

Adele Madden
Adele Madden

A MOTHER’S praise of the exceptional way her dying daughter was treated at school has inspired a new pastoral care award.

Adele Madden was in P3 at St Mary’s Primary School, Derrytrasna when she took ill in 2009 but the eight-year-old loved school so much she continued to go as often as possible up to her death in February 2011.

Her mum Eleanor was so impressed with the care her little girl received, she wrote a moving letter to Education Minister John O’Dowd.

He described that letter as ‘inspirational’ and was so impressed he set up, in conjunction with the Public Health Agency, an award to acknowledge school communities who have worked in an exceptional way to support one of their own. It is to be known as the Derrytrasna Award.

As a tribute to the pupils, Mr O’Dowd presented them with special certificates and a citation to school principal Mrs Joan Aldridge.

Mrs Aldridge said Adele was a very happy, content and popular child. They organised special pamper days and Trasna’s Got Talent event, all on the inspiration of Adele who was even made an honorary school principal.

Mrs Aldridge explained that even though Adele had been diagnosed with cancer two years prior, she had always wanted to go to school and went right up until the week before she died. “The class didn’t expect her to die,” she said.

Minister O’Dowd said it was ‘a very proud day’ for theschool. “I want to commend everyone involved. The creation of this new award, named in honour of your school, will allow us to hear about and commend other schools that are following your excellent example in supporting the emotional health and well-being of pupils and their families.”

Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive of the Public Health Agency, added the school had shown a perfect example of how people can work together to support each other in difficult circumstances. Adele’s passing was very sad, but the support which the staff and pupils gave to her and her family is a shining example which should inspire others.

Mrs Aldridge said: “It was an absolute privilege working with Adele. The class and I were taught more valuable lessons on life. We all learnt how to care. Adele’s legacy will live on in this award. There will be a story to tell as to why the award is called The Derrytrasna Award. She was a special child who achieved a lot in her short life and people will hear her story.”