PINK balloons and emotional songs brought a devastated community together in South Yorkshire to help a family hit by tragedy.
More than 200 people took to the streets to walk nearly five miles in memory of Casey Kearney, who was found in a public park dying from stab wounds on Valentine’s Day.
Residents across Doncaster and beyond showed their support for 13-year-old Casey’s family by marching to Elmfield Park from The Styrrup pub in Rossington, to raise money to help them pay the costs of their daughter’s funeral.
Walkers carried pink balloons with ‘RIP Casey’ written on them.
The schoolgirl died in hospital hours after being found severely injured from a stab wound to the abdomen.
The sponsored walk was part of a series of events to help the family, which were running throughout yesterday in Casey’s home town.
Julie Bush, landlady at The Styrrup, also ran an auction and a raffle.
She said she was keen to do anything she could to help the family, and said people throughout the area had come forward to donate prizes.
“It’s such a sad thing that’s happened. It’s total devastation in the village and we need to make sure everyone’s thinking about the family, they really do need it,” she said.
“Everybody’s hanging on to their kids and making sure they’re alright. It’s something you don’t expect to happen.”
Among those supporting the events was former Britain’s Got Talent finalist act 2Grand, who are also from Rossington.
The duo is made up of John Neill and his teenage granddaughter Sallie Lax, who sang the song Unforgettable to an emotional crowd at The Styrrup pub. Sallie went to the same school as Casey, MacAuley School.
Sallie’s step-dad Eddie Van Steen said: “Sallie and John were asked to start the event off and they had no hesitation in agreeing to do it.
“Sallie is 15 now, so she is just a couple of years older than Casey. What happened is something that has really shaken us, and saddened us, as part of the community in Rossington.
“We were keen to do anything we could to help - it is so close to home.”
Sallie said: “I didn’t know Casey personally but I saw her around school.
“We’ve had a lot of people from our school earlier in the year die as well, in car crashes and stuff, so for our school to lose another person it’s hard. But everyone joins together in a community and helps each other out.”
Sharleene Finn, 30, one of the event organisers, said: “It’s very important, especially with what’s happened, to get people back together and make sure we do right for the family.
“Everyone’s heartbroken but the community has come together really, really well.”
She said donations can be made online and urged people to search for the charity appeal on Google.
Casey left her home at around noon on Tuesday, February 14, and caught a bus to Doncaster town centre, where she intended to meet a friend.
She called the police herself from Elmfield Park to say she had been stabbed.
Hannah Bonser, 26, is charged with her murder and possession of two knives. She has been remanded in custody and will appear at Sheffield Crown Court in May for a plea and case management hearing, with a provisional trial date set for July.