Students pay touching tribute to tragic Tomasz Oleszak at memorial football match
A football match was held on Friday (March 17) by the friends and family of a North East teenager who tragically lost their life to knife crime.
A football match was organised and watched by the friends and family of Tomasz Oleszak, 14, who died in October last year after being stabbed on the Springwell Estate in Gateshead, near Whitehills Nature Park.
The event was organised at Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy, in Birtley, near Chester-le-Street, after one of Tomasz' close friends and many other students came to PE teacher Liam Cumiskey hoping to do something in his honour.
In a tribute to her son, Tomasz' mother, Kamilla, said she was excited about the memorial match which sought to celebrate his life and tackle the issue of knife crime.
Read more: Young Gateshead footballers pay tribute to Tomasz Oleszak
She said: “I'm so excited about the match, I cant wait for it and it's comforting me and cheering me up that Tomasz’s friends still want to celebrate his life and stand against knife crime.
"You know good people attract good people and all that is just a reflection of the person Tomasz was.
"It's heart breaking that it is all for him and he cannot be with us because I know he would love to be that much [of a] popular and loved person.”
The death of Tomasz, a well-liked teenager among school friends at Gateshead’s Cardinal Hume Catholic School and teammates at Gateshead Cleveland Hall CA FC, sparked an outpouring of grief.
Read more: Tomasz Oleszak's parents support Northern Echo knife crime campaign
Adding to this, he also had many friends at Lord Lawson of Beamish, who had known him since he was younger, and Mr Cumiskey said they were desperate to honour their friend.
A minute's silence was held moments before kick-off in tribute to Tomasz, and pupils applauded on the 14th minute mark to highlight the age he lost his life.
Speaking on the match, his students efforts to honour Tomasz, and what needs to be done to tackle knife crime, Mr Cumiskey said: "Although Tomasz didn't attend Lord Lawson, he has a lot of really close friends here, there's 15 students here on the pitch behind me who are really close [to him]
"[They] went to primary school with him, played football outside of school, hung out daily at the park with him, as close as you possibly can imagine being a friend.
"Although no one would have wished for anything like this to happen to anyone, students have just stayed as strong as they possibly could, it's been really inspirational to see them all come together
"It's been incredibly tough for these kids
"It's shown how strong of a community we have here, as a school, how together wwe are.
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"Football is famously uniting people, bringing people together from all different walks of life, to have that same shared goal, it's lovely to see everyone come together."
Many were dressed in Newcastle United kits, Tomasz' favourite team, to honour the boy who lost his life.
He said 300 tickets had been sold just before the game, and the match had raised just under £800 for knife crime awareness charities such as Samantha's Legacy.