Eulogy - What a boy!


By Lin Skillington


Leon McCarthy – what a boy! He was an exceptional child who was adored by everyone who had the good fortune to know him. He really was larger than life, and not only in the physical sense. His presence was such that whenever he walked into a room it was just as if a bright light had been switched on. He illuminated everyone and everything with his cheeky smile and glowing eyes. He was a charmer! He knew that he could get anyone to do anything for him just by flashing a smile and flickering those eyelashes! He was handsome, smart, kind, understanding and full of love for those he cared about the most. His powers of communication were incredible – the look in his eyes, the turn of his head, that incredible cheeky smile and the reaching out to touch and hold. He had that rare ability to get all the attention he needed exactly when he wanted it. In some ways we almost needed him more that he needed us.


We will miss his strong will, his defiance, his awkwardness, his lovely smile, his cheeky character and his love of the world and all that it had to offer him. Through Leon’s eyes we were able to see the world in a different light. He took us where it would be impossible to go without such an exceptional child by our side. He led us down some long roads, through some dark alleys and up to the top of some very high mountains with vigour and enthusiasm. He taught us all to enjoy the views as we walked with him in brilliant sunshine and gentle wind. He was a master of his craft! He was a real people watcher and if only he could tell us he would have been the teller of SO many secrets.


Leon was also a child of our times. He was allowed to grow and develop as any other child. He had all the opportunities of his age and embraced them with enthusiasm. Linda, Joe, Tara and all the rest of the ‘family team’ nurtured him well. The qualities that Leon showed are theirs too. I know that they were very proud of him, we were too. His life may have been short but he left us with very many happy memories.


Leon was capable of ‘leading people on’. Why get stressed when others could do it all for you! He would sit in his chair giggling as people asked him to move. He would wriggle with glee as he watched and listened to them trying to persuade him to stand quickly! The glint in his eye let you know exactly what he was thinking!


Leon attended Derrymount School for several years. The staff there have so many memories of good times shared but particularly of his infectious grin and his determination. He was a valuable and well loved member of the school. He enjoyed the same things at both schools – loud music, being with his friends, getting into mischief and most of all having fun.


Leon’s last few weeks at Ash Lea School were very special. He went with us on an adventurous activity to Shropshire where he took part in climbing, abseiling, tower climbing, walking, canoeing and blindfold trails. He was up for everything! He was determined to overcome all the obstacles and was an inspiration to everyone else. He staggered us with his energy and pace! We knew then that he had been ‘holding out’ on us. His best activity had to be the disco – did he like to boogie and be in the company of gorgeous girls.


His last day at school was one of his best – he worked hard in the classroom, made huge waves in the swimming pool, defied all attempts to stop him from pulling the leaves off the branches of the trees as he walked back to school and was thrilled to be chosen by Bridget to style and gel his hair. He could be quite vain on occasions and needed to look closely in the mirror to make sure that he looked just right! He liked the results of Bridget’s hard work!


To love means that you have to deal with the pain of letting go. We share with you the pain of losing such a fine young man but are so glad that he was a part of our lives. Leon will be remembered by many with enormous love and affection. Thank you for being you, Leon. I want to finish with a poem composed by some of his friends at school:


School will never be the same, without your wonderful giant frame

We all miss your smiling face, and how you filled our school with grace

Your eyes they sparkled like the stars at night, you really were a guiding light

We won’t forget you our special friend, our loving thoughts to you we send

Sleep tight Leon, we will never forget you