Tributes at brave Conner's funeral

A RECORDING of Eva Cassidy singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow was played at a service of thanksgiving yesterday for the life of a "brave, stoical and mischievous" boy who finally lost his struggle against illness.

By David Green

A RECORDING of Eva Cassidy singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow was played at a service of thanksgiving yesterday for the life of a "brave, stoical and mischievous" boy who finally lost his struggle against illness.

Conner Barnett died on April 9 aged ten – four years after he had been diagnosed with a mystery and incurable brain disorder.

Yesterday his family, friends, nurses and carers said goodbye to a youngster who had touched the hearts of many people throughout East Anglia.


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The song by Eva Cassidy had been his favourite and it was played in a service conducted by Rev Chris Norburn, the local rector.

He told a large congregation in the parish church at Redgrave, near Diss: "Even if a child has been ill, nothing prepares us for his death."

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Conner has been just like any other lively youngster up to the age of six when doctors realised all was not well.

Mr Norburn said local people had raised money to improve Conner's quality of life and stories about the boy in the East Anglian Daily Times and the Diss Express had inspired further fund-raising.

Apart from the brain condition, the Conner had also been diagnosed as having acute myeloid leukaemia, although the disease was dormant.

There followed four years of doctors' appointments, stays in hospitals and the children's hospice at Quidenham, near Diss, and a gradual loss of hope that a miracle would occur.

It was a period of desperate anxiety for his mother, Sandra, who gave up her job to give round-the-clock care to her son.

His eventual death came five months after a day during which he lost his beloved grandmother, known as Nanny Barbara, and - ten minutes later - his mother gave birth to his brother, Aaron.

Yesterday, after a service featuring another of his favourite tunes, Danny Boy, Conner was buried in Redgrave Churchyard next to the grave of his grandmother and grandfather.

Chris Potter, a staff nurse at Quidenham Children's Hospice, told the congregation that Conner had been a "brave, stoical and mischievous little boy" whom she and other staff would always remember.

"He recited Shakespeare, sang to us in French and liked to sing the football supporters songs," she said.

Ms Potter said Conner's relationship with his mother was one of "son, soul-mate and best friend".

Donations in memory of the youngster are being invited in aid of Botesdale Health Centre and Quidenham Children's Hospice, care of Rackham's Funeral Service, Stanley Road, Diss, IP22 4WS.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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