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Lasting tribute to 12-year-old after death galvanises the community
A memorial will be unveiled today to celebrate the life of a Bradford schoolboy, whose tragic death in a hit-and-run road accident last year is said to have galvanised a community like never before.
The tribute has been organised by the family and friends of 12-year-old Bilal Khizar, who was killed in the incident on Rooley Lane on October 6, 2012.
A 4ft circular mosaic, with artwork designed by Bilal’s brothers and sisters, Aafacq, 17, Zain, 14 and Neha, four, will be completed and unveiled at the Parkside Community Centre in West Bowling.
Donna Harper, a school and community learning co-ordinator for the area, helped to bring together organisations and individuals who wanted to support a permanent memorial to Bilal’s life.
She said: “I have worked in West Bowling for more than 20 years and as much as I thought I knew the community well, I was overcome when I saw the outpouring of support and love for the family at the time of the tragedy.
“This came from schools Bilal had attended, neighbours and members of the community regardless of religious, cultural or social differences.”
Mrs Harper has been leading Saturday morning sessions at the community centre for the past three months, along with Bilal’s mother Nisa, to allow Bilal’s friends and family to put the mosaic together.
“We wanted to give people a chance to come together and share their positive thoughts of Bilal, and how much joy he brought to others.”
Mrs Khizar said: “We talked about our memories and there was a lot of emotion, both tears and laughter. He was such a bubbly and outgoing child. It was hard for me to talk at first but doing this has really helped the healing process.”
Once the mosaic is unveiled, Mrs Khizar is hoping to display it in a safe play area for children she wants to develop on some derelict land behind her Spring Wood Gardens home.
Councillor Naveeda Ikram (Lab, Little Horton) has discussed the feasibility of the playground project with Mrs Khizar and has also been involved in developing a road safety campaign for schools across the city in the wake of Bilal’s death.
She said: “The tragic loss of such a young life was a binding force for this community that has never come to an end. The reaction was overwhelming and the significance of these projects cannot be underestimated, they bring everyone together.”
Hundreds of mourners attended Bilal’s funeral.
Mrs Khizar said she had been fortunate to live in such a close-knit community.
“The support we have received in the past year has been amazing, it has really meant a lot. If I have needed anything from friends or neighbours, they have been there, which in this day and age can be really hard to come by. This community is the most wonderful thing about where we live, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Bilal was killed when he was knocked down by a speeding driver attempting to flee from police. Zain Khan, 21, of Savile Park, Halifax, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, causing death by dangerous driving and perverting the course of justice.
He was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison when he appeared at Bradford Crown Court in February this year.