The words did not come easily for Principal of St Cyprians Boys’ School Dave Layne as he tried to express the emotion that the school was experiencing following the death of one of its students.
Layne and the entire school population were sent into a state of shock after five-year-old Liam Bridgeman died on Saturday while attending a pool party at Coverley, Christ Church with classmates.
When Barbados TODAY visited the school Monday afternoon there was a palpable sense of loss as students and teachers tried to come to grips with Liam’s untimely passing.
“It’s tough,” Layne explained, using a description he would repeat several times during the brief interview.
As principal, Layne must not only carry his own burden, he must also bear the pain of the entire school, particularly Liam’s classmates.
He said they operated as a family, so losing one affected them all.
“I’m trying to put on a brave face for the boys but it’s very tough. But you know, you still have to carry the whole school.
“One of the things inculcated into the boys is that we are a family and it feels like we have lost a member of our family,” he stressed.
Liam’s passing is a traumatic experience for the school, therefore, counsellors were brought in to help them deal with the tragedy.
“We have had the various counselling networks from across Barbados to deal with the boys, parents and staff. It is a tough one. They have been receiving so much counselling that we haven’t really seen a natural response from them as yet. As the day goes on we will have to see how they react.
“We will try to have some level of normalcy back, but we are playing it by ear to see how the boys are coping and taking instructions from the professionals as to how to go forward. We are taking total guidance from the professionals,” he stressed.
The principal was full of praise for the late five-year-old, describing him as fun-loving, well-behaved and loved by all his classmates.
Like the other boys, he said, Liam loved running and participating in sports, and was “a very decent” student.
“Liam was a fantastic little boy – no disciplinary issues, well dressed, soft spoken. He was a very decent little boy, well liked by his classmates. He just used to run around all the time. The KG3 boys just run. They play a little cricket, a little football, but that’s it; they just like to run. They were all so happy at school. I can remember them just running all the time,” Layne told Barbados TODAY.
Liam’s mother and grandmother were still too distraught to speak, but friends have expressed their condolences to the family on social media.
“I ask that you would watch over Sheena Jackson, Sandra Wharton and Steve at this time Lord; only you know what their going through at this time Father, touch each and everyone who has ever come in contact with Liam over the last five years,” one poster said in a moving tribute.
“Rest in peace, Liam, you will be missed,” said another and, “May God grant them strength at this time of bereavement, RIP Liam, God knows best.”
Police are continuing investigations into the incident, which occurred around 5:20 p.m. on Saturday.
According to Public Relations Officer Roland Cobbler, the child was in the pool playing with a number of children.
He was later observed motionless with his face down in the water. He was pulled from the water, CPR was administered and an ambulance was summoned.
He was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Immediately following Saturday’s incident, one of the parents who attended the party told Barbados TODAY he was still in shock and that he found it difficult explaining to his son all that occurred.
“Everything happened so fast,” he said.