Northern Ireland family agony as girl (12) is found dead
School tribute to 'much-loved' pupil (12) found dead in Co Down
The school of a 12-year-old girl in Co Down who died suddenly have paid tribute to a "much-loved" pupil.
Evan Cromie from Newtownards had been missing before her body was found over the weekend, causing shock across the community.
Claire Foster, the principal at Strangford College, led the tributes to the popular schoolgirl.
"It is with great sadness that I have to tell you of the sudden death of Evan Cromie, a much-loved Year 8 student. Our students were informed about this by their form teachers this morning," she said on the school's Facebook page yesterday.
"We are deeply saddened by this great loss but we are trying, for all the students' sake, to keep the school environment as normal as possible. Our thoughts are with Evan's family at this tragic time and the school community sends them its sincerest sympathy and support. Trained staff from the Education Authority Critical Incident Response Team are helping to support us through this difficult time and are available in school to support pupils as required."
A GoFundMe page has since been set up online to help pay for Evan’s mother Belinda’s funeral costs, and yesterday over £2,600 had been raised.
Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong sits on Strangford College's board of governors.
"I would pass on my condolences to Evan's family as well as her friends and fellow pupils at Strangford College," she said yesterday. "The school has put measures in place to support other pupils but the thoughts are with her family."
She added the school would remain open this week to make sure all pupils had access to any support they may need.
DUP MP for Strangford, Jim Shannon, also paid his respects to the family over the "unspeakable" tragedy.
"Death at any stage is always hard to come to terms with, but at such a young age is almost incomprehensible," he said.
"In the first place all of our thoughts are with the family, with her friends at school and elsewhere. I'm very conscious there's absolutely no words that can ease the grief. The fact this has happened to a pupil at Strangford College focuses our attention on the families.
"The whole of the community unites when tragedy strikes in the most unspeakable way.
"I think we have to be very mindful of the effect the tragic loss of someone so young has on her peers.
"It's absolutely right the school is taking the action they are to provide support. Whenever we grieve we all do it differently and some may need more help than others."
Many others wrote their own personal messages of support on the school's Facebook page.
One message read: "No words seem to be enough to explain how [devasatating] and truly heartbreaking this is. Sincere condolences to Evan's family and to her Strangford family also. May her wee soul rest in peace."
Another commented: "Our family sends our thoughts and prayers to Evan's loved ones and to the Strangford community at this tragic time."
The fundraising page can be found by visiting GoFundMe.com and searching 'Evan Cromie's funeral'.
If you, or anyone close to you, is affected by any issues in this article, please contact the Samaritans free on 116123 or Lifeline on 0808 808 8000