SITTING at home days after finally laying her son to rest, Catherine Heffernan still feels numb as she remembers the sound of her son’s laughter that once filled the family home.

Ryan Heffernan-Surplice, 12, from Shoebury was a loving, lively and active boy who always brought energy and fun to the family’s home and garden.

On Tuesday, the family were finally able to lay Ryan to rest after his death at Shoebury High School on March 28, with a guard of honour set up at the school.

The mother-of-three has been able to find some comfort in finally saying goodbye to her son, but says she’s still battling heartache as they wait for answers over his sudden death almost three months on.


Miss Heffernan said: “The fact he’s gone is still not quite sinking in properly and I have been feeling very numb.

“I had something to focus on before with making sure everything was perfect for Ryan coming home and for the funeral too.

“Now I am feeling a little lost and don’t know what to do about the next steps, it’s a bit harder now really.


“He was always in the garden and neighbours say it will never be the same and it’s quieter in the house without him too.”

An inquest is yet to be held into Ryan’s death, and the family still haven’t been given any indication of the cause of his death.

At the time of the incident, emergency services said he had suffered a “sudden medical emergency”.


But for Miss Heffernan, the lack of answers is making it almost impossible for her to truly say goodbye to Ryan.

She said: “We’ve still had no information about what happened and heard nothing from the coroner. One side of me understands this but it’s still heart-breaking that we do not have any answers or indication at all.

“I was hoping we would have heard before the funeral, but we really hope to hear something soon.”

Hundreds turned out across Southend to attend Ryan’s funeral, with people lining the streets to see a guard of honour from Shoebury High School and along Delaware Road in Shoebury.


The grieving mother said the funeral service at Southend Crematorium was attended by about 50 people and 100 people attended the Salvation Army in the town where a special video montage was shown.

She added: “The funeral was lovely and there was so much support in the community and so much more than I could ever have imagined.

“So many people came out and the guard of honour went on much longer and further than I had expected and also so many more people came out than I had expected to see it too.

“We had family walking behind the hearse all waving flags. The video we showed in the Salvation Army included some funny clips and I felt this was important. I wanted to make sure there were some giggles there.

“We had Pokémon references with the flowers as Ryan loved Pokémon and he was always tell me all about the different ones he would find while doing Pokémon hunts.

“It was one of his favourite things from Pokémon hunts to collecting Pokémon cards.”

Paying tribute to her son she described him as active, outdoorsy and an animal lover.

“He was just so loving and caring and loved our cats,” Miss Heffernan said.

“He always wanted to be outside and being active and loved swimming and riding his bike.”