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Tributes paid to ‘irreplaceable’ teenager who died playing football at school

A teenager who died suddenly while playing football at school was “precious and irreplaceable” and someone who “hated injustice”, mourners at his funeral have heard.

Andrew MacKinnon, 15, collapsed and died while playing football at Forrester High School in Edinburgh on March 14.

His death left the local community feeling “deeply shocked”, Reverend Michael Mair told the service at St David’s Broomhouse Parish Church in the city on Friday.

Andrew MacKinnon
Andrew MacKinnon collapsed and died while playing football (MacKinnon family handout/PA)

He said: “When the news broke that Andrew had collapsed and died while playing football at school with close friends, there was a deep sense of shock, sadness and disbelief that something like this could happen to someone so young.

“We opened the doors of our church that night because we wanted to provide a place for people to gather, light a candle and reflect on this terrible tragedy, and we were overwhelmed by the outpouring of grief from his friends and family.”

The community “immediately” rallied round his devastated family by starting a GoFundMe online fundraising campaign for them, with more than £30,000 being raised so far.

Andrew MacKinnon funeral
Mourners clapped as the funeral cortege left the church (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A group of Andrew’s friends also organised a car wash event to raise money for a memorial for him.

Andrew was described as a “lovable rogue” by Mr Mair, and a teenager who was affectionate and unafraid of showing and telling people how he felt about them.

“To his friends he was fiercely loyal and hated injustice,” he added.

Former Hearts player Gary Locke at the funeral
Former Hearts player Gary Locke was among the mourners at the funeral (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“He was always willing to back them up and stand with them in whatever challenge lay before them.

“When Andrew collapsed, he had just finished playing a game of football with some close friends and it is testament to their friendship that they refused to leave his side.

“To the community at large, he was a lad with a cheeky smile, always with a football under his arm or by his feet and up to some kind of mischief, which was never with malice.”

Andrew was a member of Salvesen Community Football Club for 10 years.

Andrew MacKinnon funeral
The coffin was adorned with floral tributes (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He is survived by his sisters Aimee and Rachel, mother Janine Dow, his father Andrew MacKinnon, and his stepfather Gary Weir.

Andrew was a passionate Hearts fan and Mr Mair said there “was not a chant he did not know”.

Mr Mair added: “He was proud to be a season ticket holder and his family say that his only regret would have been not seeing them when they won a major championship.

“It is a time of great sadness for all those who love him as they try to come to terms with his loss.

Andrew MacKinnon funeral
The coffin carried the hashtag #forever15, in reference to Andrew’s young age (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“Family, football, friends and his girlfriend were the most important things in Andrew’s life, according to his mates.

“He enjoyed singing and dancing, he was precious and irreplaceable.

“Our hearts are broken this day.

“As we say farewell to Andrew, we will reflect on all that he has meant to us, all he means to God and all of the ways that he has impacted our lives.”

Former Hearts player Gary Locke and Edinburgh South West MP Joanna Cherry were among those to attend.

A book of remembrance has been opened to enable people to record their memories of Andrew and send messages of condolence to his family.