Tributes paid to teen who died after falling from ski lift during school trip
Published 09/02/2014 | 18:27
Hundreds of people turned out at a memorial service for a teenage girl who died after falling from a ski lift during a school trip to the Italian Alps.
Poonam Bhattal, 13, fell 20ft on to the piste in the resort of Claviere last year.
The schoolgirl, who was described as ''a beautiful person", was having ski lessons with classmates from the Guru Nanak Sikh Academy in Hayes, Middlesex, when she boarded the chairlift on the morning of February 22.
To mark the first anniversary of the death, her family have participated in prayers which started last Monday at their home in Berkshire.
The prayers were completed in a memorial service today at Guru Nanak Sikh Academy.
The congregation heard extracts from Poonam's exercise book, and the last words written by her in the book were: "To be happy with your family and your life is the most important."
In a speech to the congregation, Poonam's mother said: "Poonam was one of God's children and on loan to us from God. She served her purpose on this earth well and God decided he needed her back to serve an even higher purpose.
"We feel honoured that we had the privilege of being Poonam's proud parents. We miss our Poonam so much and will always have her in our thoughts and hearts."
Ahead of the memorial, Poonam's parents said: "The service will be an opportunity to share the good memories we have had of our time with Poonam.
"We will hold on tightly to our memories forever in our hearts. We wish this to be a celebration of Poonam's life."
They added: "Poonam was a beautiful person, a little cheeky at times, but never failing to smile and making us and others smile with her.
"Even today when we watch the home videos she turns our pain and tears of sorrow into laughter with her antics and makes us feel grateful for the time we did spend with her.
"We will all cherish those precious 13 years we spent with our Poonam in our hearts forever.
"Our brightest star in the sky, Poonam our angel will live in our heart forever."
A fund has been set up in Poonam's name, and all money raised will be divided between a memorial plaque and special garden that will be created at the Guru Nanak Sikh Academy and the the school's own charity where they support the development of schools for deprived children in India.
Claviere is a ski resort in the province of Turin which crosses the French border.