Pendle headteacher's moving tribute for Burnley schoolboy (11) who wanted to be 'the very best version of himself'
A headteacher has paid a moving tribute to one of her pupils, who has died at the age of 11, as a 'respectful, caring and gentle boy.'
Rachel Tomlinson, who is the headteacher at Barrowford Primary School, also described Raffi Ahmed Pownall as a 'beautiful boy who was kind, intelligent and funny.'
Mrs Tomlinson paid the tribute as family, friends and the wider community gathered for the funeral of Raffi which will be held today at Burnley Cemetery at 3pm.
Muslim prayers are also taking place at Nelson Central Mosque.
Raffi died in the Royal Blackburn Hospital after he was taken there from his home in the Marsden Road area on Saturday afternoon.
Police confirmed there are no suspicious circumstances and a file has been passed to the coroner.
Raffii, who lived with his parents, Ayesha and Tom Pownall, was the grandson of award winning playwright, novelist and prolific radio dramatist David Pownall.
A bright and intelligent child, Raffi had recently passed his 11 plus exams and won a place to study at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School. He would have been due to start there in September.
Mrs Tomlinson said that everyone at the school loved Raffi's 'very individual approach.'
She said: "His respectful, gentle and caring nature combined with his energy and sense of fun endeared him to all those fortunate enough to meet him.
"Raffi wanted to be the very best version of himself that also touched those around him.
"Raffi was such a big part of our community and was very much loved by all of us - we will miss him intensely.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time."
Raffi also did religious studies at the Ya Sin Institute in Nelson where staff paid tribute to him on social media as "a lovely boy who was a pleasure to teach, a beautiful child full of life, intelligent and superseding his age."