THE parents of Burnley teenager Declan Edwards joined his schoolfriends to remember him in a ‘sombre’ and emotional assembly yesterday.
It came as police confirmed the 16-year-old had been founded hanged in an ‘extremely secluded’ area of woodland near Rowley Lake.
Officers discovered his body at around 4pm on Thursday and said that early indications suggested his body had been there ‘for some time’.
Yesterday morning his parents, Christopher and Mandy Edwards, joined his friends in Year 11 at Unity College in a special assembly to remember Declan.
Headteacher Sally Cryer paid tribute to a ‘charismatic, larger-than-life character’.
Flowers were laid yesterday at the top of Rowley Lane and outside Unity College and one local church opened its doors in the afternoon to allow people to remember Declan.
Mrs Cryer said that Declan ‘brought a smile to everyone he met’.
“This is a terrible tragedy but we are a tight-knit community and we will work together to get through this difficult period,” she said.
“Year 11 students, staff and governors gathered together, with Declan’s family, to pay tribute to Declan and his life.
“Declan was a charismatic, larger-than-life character. He excelled in sport, was an excellent prefect at Unity College and had great leadership skills.
“Declan was extremely popular with all students and staff and he was due to achieve excellent GCSE results this summer.
“He was a perfectionist, his uniform always smart and neat, with his hair gelled back perfectly, not a hair out of place. He brought a smile to everyone he met with his charm and sense of humour.
“He will be sadly missed by all that knew him and will never be forgotten.
“He was an outstanding young man.”
Flowers laid in memory of Declan at the top of Rowley Lane included the message ‘Gone but not forgotten’, and outside the gates of Unity College a card signed by friend Alex Reid read ‘To Dec, RIP mate, gone but not forgotten’.
Declan was last seen by a friend in Towneley Park as he made his way home from a house party on Sunday around 2pm.
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “While we still have officers working on the case our main focus now is providing support to Declan’s family.
“The death is not being treated as suspicious at this stage and a file has been passed to the coroner.”
Police said the body had been found in an ‘extremely secluded and inaccessible’ area of woodland that had not already been searched.
St Catherine’s CE Church, Todmorden Road, opened for three hours yesterday afternoon to allow people to attend and remember Declan.
Father Roger Parker said: “I think a lot of people want somewhere quiet to gather to pray and remember Declan and to light a candle in his memory.
“I spoke to children at the school in the assembly and he was clearly incredibly popular. The headteacher paid a lovely tribute to Declan.
“There were a lot of tears and it was a very sombre occasion.
“The most wonderful tribute is the way that he has brought the community together. People who didn’t know Declan have been out trying to help and they have been there for each other. There has been a real solidarity.”
An RIP Declan Edwards page on Facebook already has over 10,000 members.
Dozens of people set off Chinese lanterns in the town on Thursday night with messages scribbled on them in memory of Declan.
Further fundraising activities are now being planned, and the Blu Bar, in Burnley town centre, will donate all door takings from tonight (Saturday) to the family.