Huntingdon church service for 15-year-old Rony John to be held today

Flowers at Church Lane, Hartford, for Rony John.

Flowers at Church Lane, Hartford, for Rony John. - Credit: Archant

People from across the country will attend a service for Rony John in Huntingdon later today (Wednesday).

Flowers at Church Lane, Hartford, for Rony John.

Flowers at Church Lane, Hartford, for Rony John. - Credit: Archant

A wake is being held at St Michael’s Church, in Hartford Road, from 1pm to 3pm for friends and family to get to see Rony for the last time before he is flown to India for a funeral.

Rony’s family was expecting visitors from Leeds, Manchester and London, as well as Huntingdon, to attend the service. A second wake is being held in Peterborough later on.

Flowers and balloons with tributes have been left where he was found by the River Great Ouse in Hartford. On Saturday, members of the 1st Alconbury Scouts held a minute’s silence for Rony. His friends are also holding a ceremony to pay their respects to him at the riverside from 1.30pm on August 18, when they will hold two minutes’ silence in his honour.

Others are also planning to set up an awareness charity to teach young people about the dangers of swimming in rivers. A memorial bench is also planned.

Rony played cricket for Huntingdon and District Cricket Club under-15s and played in the team that beat Peterborough Town to the Huntingdonshire County Cup a couple of weeks ago.

Lawrence Paffett, manager of H&DCC under-15s, said: “He was a very nice boy and always had a smile on his face. Rony was popular with all of the squads.

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“He started playing for us this year after a couple of appearances last year and I was only getting to know him but I could see that he was a friendly and intelligent person. I think the last time I saw him was after we won the cup. He was meant to be playing for me on Monday against Little Paxton.

“Rony was keen to learn about cricket, so the sport has lost someone too. We will all miss him. Our deepest sympathies and thoughts go to his family.”

Val Ford, headteacher at St Peter’s School where Rony was a student, said: “We’re just in shock. It is a total tragedy, especially for something to happen on the first day of the summer holidays.

“Rony joined St Peter’s School in 2012, having relocated from India. He was a very likeable young man with a big smile, who loved his sport, particularly football and cricket.

“A tribute page created by some of his friends reflects his popularity and just how devastated our students are. The school is in shock from this tragic accident and this week we will be looking at what support can be put in place for any of our students who may need it.

“Sadly, young people do not realise how dangerous rivers can be. We will work with the river authorities, police, council and agencies to try to ensure that everyone’s awareness is heightened about the dangers of jumping into rivers.”

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire police warned about the dangers of cooling off in rivers and lakes. He said: “We would urge other people to be careful and resist the temptation. You simply do not know what lies beneath the surface of the water. It is not worth the risk.”

An inquest into Rony’s death was opened and adjourned on Monday (July 28). It is due to resume on November 6.