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Memories of Hannah

Many of Hannah's friends have shared their memories of her.

To submit your memories for publication here please use the contact form

Serrie MeakinsSerrie Meakins

Tribute to Hannah for the tree planting at Putney High School
06 December 2008

As her teacher, I am very happy to have the chance to speak about Hannah today. On that dreadful day in December, when Dr Lodge told us that Hannah, one the brightest and the best of her year, had died – we were all devastated. We continued our work, teaching, supporting, and trying to find some way through this senseless tragedy. For my colleagues and me, today gives us a chance to remember the Hannah we love.

Hannah was a sunny, happy, committed, engaged young lady– in the 2 years I taught her, I cannot recall one lesson when she was grumpy or uncooperative. On the contrary I cherish the memories of those Monday mornings when I chatted to Hannah, & her friends Alex & Fiona, as the other reprobates in my yr 10 class slowly trailed into the classroom. I was always struck by how full Hannah’s life was – her weekends had been full of rugby watching, parties, friends, boys even!… I was also struck by how wide-ranging her intellectual curiosity was – she once spent 10 mins earnestly persuading me that today’s doctors would diagnose Stalin as a clinical schizophrenic! Mr Gunaskera described her as an ‘intuitive scientist’, much missed in the science department, who would have made a wonderful doctor. Other teachers reiterate this, -the comment I have heard most often is that she was incredibly positive. Miss Sharp, her year 7 tutor told me that Hannah was one of the girls you would notice quickly in a class of Year 7, not because she pushed herself forward but because she was always so hungry for everything, for lessons, for stories, for ideas, for music, for people. She was the sort of person who would think of others effortlessly. Hannah’s generosity of thought for other people was tangible even when she was very young.

I know it’s a truism but Hannah packed as much into her 16 years as many do in 60. Her spirit survives here in Putney – I am sure I was not alone in feeling her presence at the Fashion show, and at Flo’s musical statues last summer and very strongly in the recent Arkwrights’s Amazing Adventure. I know, even after her year group leaves this summer, we will be collecting money for the Meningitis Trust in her memory for years to come.

And I love the thought of this tree being here in her memory, blossoming every year, a thing of beauty & joy & delight – just like Hannah. I know when I’ve had a bad day – a difficult year 10, year 12s who don’t so their homework.. I shall come & talk to her, and when life is sweet, I shall come & share that with her too.

The song that Hannah seems associated with now is ‘Hallelujah’, strong, haunting, happy, a little strange, not quite as simple as it first appears. If it is possible to say that hallelujah is a general term of praise and joy and thanksgiving, a shout of gladness, then what better way to think of her.

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Hannah and SianSian

They say that if you love something so much you can talk about it for hours. Well I can, and I would, if you would permit me. But if the truth be told this page can only take a limited amount of words and look I’m already babbling. I apologise, but you see I’ve never written something so important in my life. I want it to be right, perfect in fact, just like she was, is, and in my eyes always will be.

I suppose the best way to describe Hannah would be the first memory I ever have of her. My mother and I along with another girl and her mother were crowded around a stall selling P.E bags before the first day of reception at Putney Park School. I was immediately attracted to the bright tone of the yellow bag and knew I had to have the last one. Unfortunately the other girl felt the same way. Being 4 and rather naive, if there is only one displayed, that meant, to me as to the other girl, that there was only one left. Both of us began to cry before the sales woman could even get a word in edge way. In a flash, a yellow bag was waving in front of my face the source of this waving coming from a rather short, smiley brunette who had her hair in pig tails and beauty spot just above her lip. “Have mine, I don’t mind getting red”. In fact the sales woman had a whole stock pile of yellow ones underneath the table, but the point being, generosity is Hannah in a nutshell.

From that day forward, for 12 blissful years, Hannah and myself were inseparable. Even after attending different high schools we would see each other every Saturday at a drama club or talk to each other on the phone. We shared birthday parties and celebrated new years together. I will forever keep tight the pound puppies we collected, the fairy book we wrote, the ballet shoes we both wore and the pictures that we took because it is not every day you meet a stranger so wonderful they become and stay your best friend forever.

I regret never being able to thank her personally for being there for me when ever I needed her so I address this last part to you Hannah. You are still everything to me, in every breath I take and every step I make. There when I sleep and here when I wake. You influenced my life more than anyone will ever realise and I just want you to know I will never forget you. 

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06 December 2008

I haven’t been able to get the words out about what you meant to me. and I still can't. The Bennetts have always said that the Kings are our second family and we were going to be part of each others lives forever. well that is still true. everyday, my girl, every day. That time we spent together just four days before was one of the happiest evenings I’ve spent. and when we made the video, just a few weeks before that. I haven’t been able to watch it since but tonite it was my tribute to you, my darling friend. There are so many memories I can't write about them all. I'm trembling as I write this to think that you will never read it but I know you know it, because whenever I need you I look up at the brightest star and just start chatting. We chatted about astronomy the week before. we were SO intellectual. and then I called you babe, and that was very displeasing...."I am not a sheep-pig" was your reply. no babe - you're not. and that same evening "be happy with the time you had" my goodness you were wise that evening. and so I need to say thank you, for all your wisdom, your answers, your love, and your help my darling. every word of it. I don't want to live my life with out you, but now I’ll just have to look a bit harder to find you, in spirit, from your family, my wonderful second family, and all your friends over the years, and one day, as a special treat, I'll leave some caesar salad out for the fairies, they do have them in Oxford, I’ve checked.

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Hannah, The Tartan Loving Pirate
By Thomas Elliott

This is not a story of great wealth, not a story of espionage or forbidden love not a story that may sell hundreds of thousands of copies. This though is a story of immense achievement and truth, in a life so short lived, but a life lived to the maximum. In life we rarely live to our potential, many of us find ourselves going through the motions, day by day just living our lives through menial tasks and seemingly important events. Have you ever had the thought “I must go shopping?” Or “I must get my work in or my teacher or boss is going to kill me.” In the grand scheme of things this is all rather trivial. What is the point of living life if what you care about are things that will only affect you? Shopping affects you generally, and we never have a need to shop. We have evolved over hundreds and thousands of years and yet have never felt the need to shop as much as we do. Don’t get me wrong shopping of course it is important and it keeps our economy alive but in the grand scheme of things is it really that important? Surely throughout our lives we should be working towards achieving our goals, of course, but at the same time be working to touch people’s lives. To commit selfless acts on other people and generally be able to live our lives with the ability to feel happy and content that we are living our lives with a higher purpose, rather than just living for ourselves.

A friend of mine once used to live her life by this description of herself. “I am a tartan loving pirate, who just wants to sail the seven seas.” I met this girl in my second year of Putney Park School. We were all sitting in our classroom, well me hanging on to my mother’s legs, not wanting to go to school. I was about 5 at this point. I remember the room vividly. The walls were painted blue and there were two rows of desks from the front to the back of the classroom. So there is me crying and sobbing, whilst other children are doing the same, it is a mass of tears and gulping sobs as the mother’s, looking forlorn at having to leave their little darlings, eventually manage to prize themselves off their children and leave the classroom. Honestly I had never seen so much pandemonium, the crying continued, one girl cried until she unfortunately expelled that mornings breakfast all over the carpet. Surprisingly, or not so, this was actually a daily occurrence. Sure enough the Mrs Goldsmith had learned and there was a bucket and mop ready for such an occasion. I could see the look on her face as she quickly grabbed the bucket and raced over to the sobbing and vomiting girl. It was a look of compassion and annoyance all in the same expression. As she bent over to clean up the now large puddle of vomit on the carpet another girl walked in to the room, I do not know what it was about her but, I don’t know how everyone else felt, she seemed to put me slightly more at ease. Of course I was still upset, and fawning after my mother but the introduction of this girl seemed to calm me down, take my mind off of things. The main reason must have been her confidence. There was no crying to her mother, no clutching of legs and no vomiting either. She seemed so sure of herself. She just gave her mum a kiss and sauntered into the classroom exuding confidence.

I remember thinking to myself “Wow” as she walked in and just started talking to people. It was amazing; I had never seen anyone that confident. She could literally go up to someone and start a conversation, of course at 5 years old conversation topics are limited, and my memory is bound to be sketchy at best but still I shall push on. I remember looking over at her talking to a boy in the class and remember feeling just complete admiration for her whilst at the same time wishing she would come and talk to me. No sooner had I wished this and there she was walking over to me with a big smile on her face. She then proceeded to introduce herself as I looked at my feet in an extremely shy manner. “Hi.” she said. “My name’s Hannah, What’s yours?”
“Thomas.” I mumbled back, still slightly choked up with tears. Looking around I saw everyone had almost stopped crying and as the sun went behind a cloud outside Mrs Goldsmith started to instruct us to sit at certain desks so that we could all get to know each other. Unfortunately for this story that is really the only conversation I remember from those early years with her. This was the first time I met Hannah King, and it is not a time that I will soon forget.

Hannah was a great friend of mine up to the age of 16. It was a just over a month away from her 17th birthday and we had not talked for a while. Hannah always had a knack though for making it so that even if we did lose contact with each other for a bit when I saw her it would seem like we had never been away from each other. I had just been having a driving lesson, with the knowledge that Hannah had gone into hospital on Friday with suspected Meningitis. I will remember this day for the rest of my life, as I had never had to deal with death directly in my life at all. I have had parents of family friend’s die but I had never been close to them so this all came as a shock to me. I walked back into my house, struggled putting the key in the lock; I get nervous when I have a driving lesson for some reason. God knows how nervous I will be in my test then. Anyway, I put the key in the lock and went inside, to be greeted by my mum with tears streaming down her face, before I could even ask what was wrong the most shocking words I could ever have imagined came out of her mouth. “She died Darling.” Through the tears it made these words have even more of an impact. It made me feel as though I had been knocked flat on my back, like a huge rugby tackle where all the air had been knocked out of my lungs. My eyes glazed over and I headed towards the stairs. Running up the stairs to my room I remember thinking to myself, “this can not be true, there is no way.”

I will remember the first day that I went around to Hannah’s house vividly, as if I was there now. It was one day after school and I went home with her and her mum, we walked as she only lived a couple of roads away. I was nervous. There I was with this amazingly confident and energetic girl and then there was me, a shy little boy. As soon as I got into the front door and was instructed to take my shoes off my worries seemed to disappear completely. I was a different person the minute I was in her house. It was just the way she made me feel so welcome. She immediately took me up to show her room to me, and it was the pinkest thing that I had ever seen. Everything in it was pink, from the walls right down to the sheets on her bed. It’s pretty obvious my thoughts at this view. But Hannah again put me at ease and we began playing with her toys and everything, making up lots of games together, Hannah making most of them up and me then following on.

It was summer at the time and a particularly nice day. Suddenly Hannah stopped which ever of the hundreds of games we had made up, and announced that we were going to go and play outside before tea as she had something very amazing to show me. Intrigued, and with almost no say in the matter I followed her downstairs and out of the large glass doors into the garden. The air was warm and nice on my skin and there was a lovely smell, as all the different types of flowers seemed to mix and form one beautiful aroma. She led me to the back of the garden explaining on the way that “there are fairies at the back of the garden.” There I am following behind fascinated. There was no point in telling Hannah that fairies didn’t exist because all that would get you is a lecture on how you don’t believe enough. Unfortunately I did not see any fairies that day, maybe it was because I didn’t believe enough or maybe it is because, as Hannah put it so well, “they like me because I give them Caesar Salad.” If only I had had Caesar salad that day I could have got me a glimpse of some real live fairies. But that didn’t matter. I may have not known it then but I was in the presence of a true angel.

Hannah left Putney Park at the age of around seven or eight, I think. I remember it was year two but for the life of me I cannot remember what age that is. She went to Putney High school and from there we lost touch, of course this was inevitable, at the age of seven it is not easy to keep in touch. Luckily as our parents were quite friendly we did not stay out of touch for too long.

We had an odd kind of friendship, we would go through periods of not seeing each other for a while, but then as soon as we became close again it was like we had never been parted. There was a time about a year ago where we would see each other almost every week. She spent all the time trying to beat me at a racing game on her playstation, her ambitions to be a racing driver unfortunately never quite enabled her to beat me, but it was ok, as I need some kind of pride after my constant crippling defeats at table football, I could never understand it. I was a boy, therefore football should come easy to me, but sure enough like clockwork I would end up picking the little cork ball out of my goal every couple of seconds.

The tragic day that I found out about Hannah will always be imprinted on my mind. It seemed to be the longest day of my life. For the most part I just spent the day on her Facebook page, just looking through pictures that she had put up on there. It was all I could seem to do; I didn’t feel like doing anything. I must have sat on the sofa looking at my computer for hours. I was just scrolling through pictures until the battery ran out and I was left staring at a blank screen. Around that time Jordan, my best friend, came around to make sure I was OK. When she came through the door I didn’t say anything, all I could do was sob as I hugged her. We cried together for what seemed like hours. For the next hour or so while she was there we just watched television in silence, speaking seemed unnecessary. The X-Factor was on and whilst we watched the latest band of contestants try and sing some of the greatest songs written I just stared at the tv, not really taking anything in, that is until a contestant by the name of Niki came on. She was a woman in her forties, long brown hair and one of the best voices I have ever heard. The song that had been chosen for her on that day was Songbird by Eva Cassidy. As soon as she started I couldn’t help myself I just cried and cried, there was no way I could stop. Jordan had to leave after the X-Factor and so I just wearily and red-eyed went to sleep.

The next couple of days seem to be a blur to me. The Sunday took the same shape as the day that I found out, I just sat on the sofa in my television room and looked at pictures on my laptop, while contributing to the memorial site made for Hannah on Facebook. It was incredible to see how many people loved her and left comments on the wall, for the first few days there were new comments almost every minute. Monday was probably the hardest day. I had to go in to school and although of course everyone there was so understanding and kind to me in a way it made it worse as for the whole day I was thinking about the things that me and Hannah used to do together. The way we used to rescue any type of wildlife in our gardens and try and make sure it would be nursed back to health. There was one afternoon that I will always remember in which we spent the entirety of the afternoon nursing an injured bumblebee back to health. The bee had hurt one of it’s wings and so we spent ages making a little habitat for it to get better it, full of flowers and leaves, everything that a bee could possibly want. It just amazed me how passionate Hannah was from an early age to do everything to protect the environment. She never lost her passion; she was even a founder of the recycling club a Putney High school that made a huge difference and has been carried on in her honour.

I had never had to deal with death until this time and so I had never been to a funeral either and I am sure that any funeral I attend in the future will be nothing like this at all. For a start the dress code was party clothes as apposed to the standard black seen at most funerals. As everyone walked into the church there was rock music playing on the speakers, all songs that Hannah loved. At the entrance there was a Pirate ship made of flowers and the entire church was jammed full with people. The service was incredible; there were hymns sung and then tributes by all of Hannah’s school friends. Her Guitar teacher played two songs for Hannah. Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley and then Time of your life by Greenday. The latter Hannah had always said she wanted played at her funeral, I just never imagined that it would be so soon. 

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The first memory I have of Hannah is being taken with great ceremony down to the bottom of her garden, "Sssh!" she whispered, "you'll disturb them!" "What?" I asked. "THE FAIRIES, they're afraid of people. Except me, they like me because I give them caesar salad".
It was to be the start of many happy Thursday afternoons spent at one another's houses, baking cakes, putting on plays (which invariably had more than 2 characters, a minor difficulty that never seemed to matter very much) and even forming our own band.
Perhaps the greatest coincidence of my life became apparent when I met up with Hannah earlier this year. Having not seen each other for nearly 18 months we discovered that we had both, totally independently of each other, made ourselves captains of pirate ships and recruited crew members from among our friends. At the time I remember us both being entirely unsurprised, after all what normal, intelligent person faced with the difficulties of 16 year old life would not turn to piracy? We then spent several hours discussing the merits of our respective ships, after which we concluded that although I had a parrot, Hannah had a cabin boy and so we were probably about even.
I will always remember Hannah as a devoted friend, as the funniest, smiliest, happiest pirate ever to sail the seven seas, and as the little girl who fed caesar salad to the fairies. 

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I will always remember our numerous discussions about her style of fashion and how I thought everything should colour co-ordinate. I will always remember her in her famous red tartan dress which she would wear with her purple converse shoes just because she wanted to clash.
On one occasion she was wearing a black and white spotty dress and being Hannah she put on red and white stripy pants.
She always had her own uniqueness and was confident enough to not be phased by what other people thought about her sense of style.
I remember on a school trip to PGL, we both enjoyed imitating Vicky Pollard, a character from Little Britain much to the annoyance of our other friends. If you can imagine Hanky in a pink jumpsuit, large hooped earrings, fake cigarette in the talent show, and she won a prize. She was never afraid to express that wacky side she had.

She will never be far from our minds and our hearts.

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Hannah (Winter)

I first met Hannah on my first day at Putney High in year 7 when we were having a tour around the school and we all had to wear stickers with our names and where we lived written on them. As soon as Hannah saw that we both had exactly the same written on our stickers she came up to me completely full of confidence with that famous infectious smile and started talking to me. Immediately I knew I had met such a really funny and genuinely kind person. I also remembering really wanting to tell her she had blue pen on her face but thankfully I didn’t as I later found out was a mole which I am sure you all know that she was very proud of. I do not think she ever realised how included she made me feel that day as I am sure she did other people as she was the first person in 7B to name everyone in the class and to me that just shows how much time Hannah had for everyone. 

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Hannah always wanted to have the middle name of Katie as she idolised her cousin Katie. As Katie was her idol, Hannah was mine. Her talents were phenomenal and her intelligence was outstanding. She was one of those rare few who are just good at everything they turn their hand to. (An example of this was in English where she never seemed to pay too much attention and then she would suddenly raise her hand to give some incredibly profound statement about the subject. Her in-depth response would shock the teacher and leave me in disbelief because she would have been doodling just five seconds ago! ). Her determination to become a doctor was inspiring and she was certainly the driving force for many of us wanting to do medicine. She will never be forgotten. 

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Christina and Hannah


Hannah is and was a lovely, caring, clever friend. At the moment I see Hanky travelling around the seas of the sky in a large beautiful pirate ship with tartan sails. On the ship there is a race track, which Hanky likes to race round in her F1 car. When she’s not racing or performing the duties of a Captain, she’s helping out the rest of the people sewing back on their arms and legs because they fall to pieces in laughter every time Hanky tells a joke. Hannah has always been here for me and she will remain with me and others always and forever.

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Olivia and Hannah


I have so many memories of Hannah. Her love of music, listening, singing and playing, was a big part of her life. One of my fondest memories is the time we spent together at the V festival this summer.
It was an amazing day but unfortunately it rained non-stop. Hannah was one of those people who made everything she did fun for herself and for those around her. She was so enthusiastic and never let anything get her down. Most people would have moaned about the downpour. Not Hannah. She declared that the rain made it a proper festival.

Hannah was such an amazing, kind friend and she is going to stay part of my life forever. 

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One of the very special times I spent with Hannah which I will now always remember were the Easter holidays last year. I spent the whole week with her in London, particularly in Covent Garden where we ate ridiculous amounts of Ben's cookies and visited the bead shop which she loved so much. I don't think I’ve ever laughed as much as I laughed with Hannah that week.
That's how Hannah was; full of life and always smiling. An amazing, caring friend she lived her life to the absolute full and didn't waste one moment. Hannah was always there when I felt down and always managed to make me see the positive side of every situation. When I think of Hannah I’ll always think of her beautiful smile. I'll miss her so much. 

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I will always remember Hannah as the bright and bubbly 6 year old girl I spent the majority of my childhood with. I will remember the hours we spent piling mud into leaves and selling them off as “chocolate éclairs” to anyone who would buy them. Hannah was always telling me in the years following, how disappointed she was when she discovered that real éclairs were in fact filled with cream and not the melted chocolate we had always dreamed of!
I will remember helping her to tend to the fairies she insisted lived in her back garden. I will remember how we carefully mothered our matching toy ‘Barney the dinosaurs’, which along with Hannah’s various Disney costumes, rarely missed one of our outings. I will remember how Hannah would sneakily eat the play dough when all backs were turned! I will remember watching Hannah blossom into someone so remarkably driven that I knew she was special. I will remember Hannah as she was so kind and unique, that she would be impossible to forget. 

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Hannah was the only person who could tell me I was being stupid without making me feel stupid. I will treasure every memory I have of her.

Hannah and Lizzie


When I think of Hannah, I think of the happy and friendly little girl I met in year 3, when we were sat next to each other and became friends. Due to our talking we were soon separated in class but remained the best of friends and her friendliness and kindness never changed.
Hannah was an amazing best friend, you could always rely on her to cheer you up and make you smile. Her friendliness and kindness did not just extend to her friends but to everyone she met. 

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Hannah and Ash


It’s difficult to say enough words that would describe Hannah truly. My very first memory of Hannah was three years ago, at my first day at Putney High. Hannah came as a representative of her class to meet me at the reception. She was so shy; she didn’t say a word the whole way to the class, leaving us to walk with an awkward silence!! In this short period of 3 years, we became very close friends and shared so many good memories together. I will always remember when Hannah got so annoyed at me every single day when we went on holiday to Portugal, forcing me to apply sun cream, explaining the theory behind how even brown skin can get skin cancer too!! There are so many memories of Hannah involving her bright blue coat, which I’m sure is so famous. She was so enthusiastic about life, and so knowledgeable; one of the cleverest people I have met. It is hard to be as talented as she was, and I feel so lucky to have had such a caring and understanding friend in my life, who healed so many people in so many different ways. She’s an inspiration for me to be a better person in life, as she herself was.

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Hannah and DulcieDulcie

It’s so hard to put into words how much Hannah meant to all of her friends and especially how much she meant to me. I have tried to remember how we became really good friends and I realised that whilst we had always been in the same group we became much closer when we sat next to each other in chemistry. Hannah was so intelligent and always worked so hard and she gave others the motivation to work hard too. We both wore glasses so when it came to doing experiments in class, whilst everyone else could wear safety glasses; we had to wear goggles on top of our regular glasses. This made us look like typical ‘chemistry geeks’. Hannah, being Hannah, took a shine to this look and insisted that we both wear them even when we were wearing contacts. For her Christmas present I bought her the geekiest pair of goggles I could find; it’s just so sad that I was never able to give them to her.
I’ll miss Hannah in the classes that we had together but most of all I will miss her as a friend. 

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Hannah, Hanky, Pañello, Banana, Monkey Poo, Tataferian, Hannah Spanner Banana Katie King, whatever you called her, she was one of the most amazing people you will have ever meet. When in Maths together, our teacher mixed up our names so I was Hannah and she was Fiona. When our teacher felt embarrassed, he offered us a Mars Bar each if he got our names wrong three more times, which lead to switching seats and name tags half way through lessons.
In the words of Puff Daddy – “Words can’t express what you mean to me, even though you’re gone, we still a team, through your family I’ll fulfil your dreams, in the future can’t wait to see, if you’ll open up the gates for me and reminisce some time, give anything to hear half your breath, I know you’re still living your life after death” 

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