Emotional tributes as college announces award in late drama student's name
PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 July 2019
Tears flowed as a memorial was unveiled at New City College this week for Dagenham teenager Kane Johnson.
Family members and loved ones packed into a hall at the college's Chadwell Heath campus to see a newly-erected plaque and portrait in the late student's honour, and hear about an award the college has set up in his name.
Kane was 17 years old when he left home on April 10 this year and never returned. His body was discovered in the Thames on Easter Sunday.
The memorial was the idea of fellow drama student Georgie Hart. The 18-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, counted Kane among her best friends and said he had been "the most kind and friendly to me" throughout the two years they knew each other.
She said: "This award will be for the best student, the one who has shown the most compassion and is the most friendly. I don't want him to be forgotten."
The award will be presented to a new student once a year for the next 19 years and Kane has been named the inaugural winner.
You may also want to watch:
Speaking to the assembled group, campus principal Janet Smith said: "This is our lasting tribute to Kane, that we want to have in our building for all our students when they come into the college to know who Kane was and how important he was to us.
"The award will be open to not only the student who achieves the most but is also kind and compassionate, and epitomises all the things that were best about Kane."
The portrait was a photograph first taken at the college during Kane's studies, ahead of a production of Romeo and Juliet, in which he played Tybalt.
Family members and friends comforted each other during the emotional address, with Kane's mother Hayley Johnson telling Georgie: "I'm a proud mother today. You were good friends with Kane, and you're a good friend to me too."
The family also presented Georgie with a book of photographs of her friend, who would have turned 18 on August 15, and poetry to remember him by.
Cousin Sidney Shahin said: "Although we were crying, it was a good moment to remember him. I'm happy that he made an impact on so many people's lives."
Kane's death is still being treated as unexplained by police, who together with his family issued a fresh appeal for information last week. An inquest is due to take place in December.