A new play area at Llanharan Primary School has been dedicated to remember much-loved former pupil Cian Case – with members of his family attending the school to officially open ‘Cian’s Playground’.
On Monday, November 16, Cian’s parents Lorraine and Richard, along with his brother and sister Dylan and Bethany who attend Y Pant School, officially opened the school’s new outdoor space by cutting a ribbon at the playground. Cian was a pupil at Llanharan Primary who bravely battled cancer for two years, but tragically passed away in January 2018, aged six.
Recent improvements at the school, jointly funded by the Council and Welsh Government, have provided a new extension block and outdoor learning areas. The school wanted to dedicate a new playground built as part of the scheme as a tribute to Cian, working closely with the family to achieve this.
Cian’s father Richard Case said: “The school always wanted to do something in memory of Cian, and knew they were having work done and wanted to build a playground. The school asked if we’d mind if they put it in Cian’s memory, and we were delighted. There is a memorial garden at the school already, but they thought the playground is more of what Cian would have wanted.”
To officially dedicate the playground to Cian, a large colourful sign has been put in place, containing lots of Cian’s favourite things.
Richard added: “All of the images were chosen by the family and by Cian’s friends – the company that helped us design and install it is owned by the father of Cian’s friend. There’s a penguin which was his favourite animal, an orange ribbon for his favourite colour, the Cardiff City logo and also the WWE logo as he loved wrestling. His friends also chose the stars and the hills, and we added Cian’s name in his own writing, which we took from a birthday card he once wrote.”
Richard also reflected on how Cian would be remembered by those at Llanharan Primary School who knew him, and also by his family members.
He added: “Cian was such an energetic and charismatic person who always liked getting stuck into things. When we were told he was having treatment we thought he would go into himself, but he remained positive right until the end. He thought it was the physiotherapy that was making him better rather than the other treatment, and even when his mobility was deteriorating he was always pushing himself. Even things like motivating himself to walk to the park and back – that’s what he believed would make him get better.
“But Cian was also incredibly loving – there were definitely these two sides to him. A story that headteacher Mrs Price tells shows that other side. When Cian fell ill the school and the Council did lots to make sure they were ready for him when he came back – like installing a disabled lift and arranging funding for one-to-one support to look after him. When Cian was introduced to the lady from the Council who arranged the lift, he gave her a massive hug. No one told him to – he just did it. He was incredibly loving, and he definitely liked giving hugs!
“It’s a really close-knit school. There were only around 100 pupils when Cian started and all the children know each other, and the families too – it’s really community based. I’m still friends with some of the teachers even though we no longer have any children at the school. I couldn’t be more pleased that Cian ended up going to Llanharan Primary when we moved to the area, because everyone was so friendly and they have been so good to our family.”
Councillor Geraint Hopkins, Chair of Governors at Llanharan Primary School and Cabinet Member for Adult Community Services and Welsh Language, said: “I was privileged and honoured to join Cian’s family and friends in attending the opening ceremony of Cian’s playground earlier this week.
“Cian’s was such a happy, gentle and caring young boy, and his tragic passing had an enormous effect on everyone, not just at the school, but also across the wider community of Llanharan.
“The support shown to Cian and his family throughout their difficult journey has been truly fantastic and, as part of that, it has been an ambition of everyone at Llanharan Primary School to bring forward this memorial and we have worked closely with his family to deliver this beautiful playground.
“I’d like to extend my thanks to Cian’s family and the staff at both Llanharan Primary and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council for supporting and delivering this truly fitting memorial playground.”