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Friday 17 November 2017

Poignant last photos of happy Ciara Pugsley bullied online are released

Ciara with her brother Daniel (18) on August 25 before taking part in a snorkel swim. Ciara took her own life two weeks ago after being bullied online.
Ciara with her brother Daniel (18) on August 25 before taking part in a snorkel swim. Ciara took her own life two weeks ago after being bullied online.
Ciara taking a spin in a helicopter with her brother Daniel
Ciara Pugsley golfing
Spending time with the family dog Lulu
Ciara with her pony Basil
Spending time with the family dog Lulu

Greg Harkin

THEY are the pictures which, on the face of it, don't seem to add up. Snapshots from the life of a 15-year-old girl who, two weeks ago, took her own life.

But Ciara Pugsley's life was filled with joy and love.

It's exactly two weeks to the minute after her death and her dad Jonathan and brother Daniel (18) are sitting in the Landmark Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, trawling through memories of a lost daughter and sister.

Ciara was the girl who was bullied online. The fall-out has shattered an entire community.

Mr Pugsley is determined to use her death so that no other family has to sit like this, holding onto memories. As he says himself: "I don't want Ciara just to be a headline. I want people to see her growing up, being a bright, bubbly child. She was a real adventurer.

"If I can make parents and teenagers think about the dangers online, if I can help stop there being another Ciara, then that's why I'm doing this."

More often than not, Mr Pugsley and Daniel talk about Ciara in the present tense.

"We went up in a helicopter and we flew over the house for my 17th birthday, it was great fun," says Daniel.

"She loves that dog," says Jonathan, pointing to a picture of Lulu, the family Dalmatian.

"We got it from the dog home. We couldn't believe that no one wanted her so we went and got her. Ciara was obsessed with the film '101 Dalmatians' and was delighted to have just one," he says with a smile.

The brother and sister were "always messing" says their dad. "They'll disappear upstairs for hours," he says.

Most of these precious images are of Ciara with her beloved pony, Basil -- the animal which led the cortege at her funeral.

"They are just family pictures and now they are so precious," says Mr Pugsley.

Determined

"She just started to learn how to water ski and she was always falling but determined to get back up again.

"She's just a normal girl and we want people to see that but obviously there was another side we didn't know about; what was happening to her online.

"It's been very difficult. We're just taking this one day at a time."

Mr Pugsley, an engineer from Yorkshire, brought his family to Ireland from Derbyshire when Ciara was just four because of the rural schools, the outdoors life and the lifestyle here.

"It was very comforting to hear so many wonderful things being said about her at the funeral," says the 46-year-old. "It is just a pity we heard it at her funeral."

He is motivated by the hope that Ciara's death will not be in vain.

"We might do some sort of event here in Carrick," says Jonathan.

"I want to bring people together and celebrate Ciara but also get a message out there about the awful consequences of cyber-bullying.

"If I can do that, then perhaps some good will come out of this. I want people to see Ciara's life in these pictures and make them stop and think."

Irish Independent

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