Huge turnout for Roundhay Park balloon release in memory of 20-year-old from Leeds

The friends and family of a 20-year-old man from Leeds have said their final goodbyes at a balloon release in his memory.

Monday, 13th July 2020, 6:00 am
George's family look on as the biodegradable balloons are released in his memory (Photo: Simon Hulme)

George Hackney, from Whinmoor, took his own life last month after a tragic struggle with psychosis.

Dozens of people turned up to Soldiers Field, Roundhay Park, at 2pm on Sunday to release biodegradable balloons with a message to George inside.

The balloon release was organised by George's close friends as a way to say goodbye, as only immediate family were able to attend his funeral due to Covid-19 restrictions.

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George Hackney, 20, took his own life last month

George was a swimming teacher and former Boston Spa Academy student and the community has been rocked by his death.

His sister, Rebecca McCormack, stressed how important it was for George's friends and family to come together to support each other in their time of grief.

Despite her enormous personal loss, Rebecca is campaigning for better awareness of psychosis and is supporting others bereaved by George's death, urging young people to open up about how they're feeling.

Rebecca, 29, said: "As soon as I let go of the balloon I just crumpled to the floor, it was a release of something. For many people there I think they were carrying a bit of weight around all this time, so it was a really emotional moment.

George's sister stressed how important it was for family and friends to support each other in their grief (Photo: Simon Hulme)

"It was an important thing to do for the young people there especially, for everyone to see how much support there is and to start those conversations. It was really positive for increasing awareness and giving people the ability to reach out and talk to someone who understands.

"But it also meant people were able to say goodbye and have a release of some sort.

"I'm so grateful to his friends for arranging it. Hopefully we can get going with the charity and implement change, but it's the younger generations that need to keep going with the momentum, looking out for each other and getting rid of the stigma around mental health."

A celebration of George's life with family and friends will be held in January on what would have been his 21st birthday.

His close friend Bryony Lucas, 20, organised the balloon release and was amazed by the turnout.

She said: "It went amazingly, the turnout for George was brilliant.

"You could see how loved he was by everyone there. We had a few malfunctions with the ribbon of the balloons during the handout, but I think George would’ve been laughing at us up there!

"It was so special to bring all of George’s family and friends together to say goodbye. I would like to say thank you to George’s immediate family for allowing me to organise such a special event in his memory.

"We all love and miss George very much."