Remembering Harry through his gift

In September 2012, the community of Singleton and beyond mourned the loss of nine year-old Harry Dunn, killed when a truck collided with his school bus, not far from home.

Remembering Harry through his gift

In the months since, his parents, Dean and Sarah, and siblings, Luke and Georgia, as well as extended family and friends, have learned to live with just the memories of Harry.


Those memories were enhanced recently when a purpose-built adventure playground, dedicated to Harry’s love of climbing, was officially opened in the grounds of his school and blessed by Bishop Bill Wright. Standing at a whopping six metres high, “Harry’s Climb” takes playground equipment to new heights. Speaking at the opening, Harry’s mum Sarah said it would have been even higher if Harry could have had it his way, but that six metres was the limit and that they were honoured by the tribute.


Principal of Harry’s school, St Catherine’s Catholic College, Brian Lacey, said, “Sarah said to me, the day after the accident, that he loved climbing and he loved the perspective of the world when he climbed trees and structures – so the idea was born amongst the sadness and grief of the accident.”


Planning, co-ordinating and watching Harry’s Climb come to fruition has been both difficult and comforting for the Dunn family and the wider community. It’s a reminder both of grief and of a happy little boy’s life and vision.


“The contribution from the entire parish-college-Singleton community has been outstanding, from financial support from schools in Sydney to major contributions from coal companies. I believe the whole community was touched by the tragedy and felt compelled to do something,” Mr Lacey said.  “Over many weekends, members of the Dunn family have spent numerous hours working to help make Harry’s Climb something enjoyable and special for kids, for many years to come. We have had staff from St Peter’s Maitland come and help out, and some very generous assistance from parishioners and parents who donated time, resources and equipment to help the vision become a reality.”


Another aspect of Harry’s legacy is the attention paid to legislative changes requiring seatbelts in school buses. Brian says, “While there is still a long way to go, it’s good that the process has started.”


While Harry’s Climb in no way mitigates the loss of Harry, it provides a focus for those who will always remember him, and makes a significant contribution to life at St Catherine’s. Brian Lacey captures the feeling of the community when he says, “We see the Climb as Harry’s gift. Our faith has provided the crutch and the support to help us through this tragedy.  We know we, especially the children, have been blessed by the loving support from many friends, and even though we felt sad, lonely and hurt by Harry’s death, we can celebrate his great love of life each day we play and have fun on his Climb.  


“Sarah and Dean have supported so many of us over the last twelve months – their courage, determination and faith have been a wonderful blessing and help for all of us.”


You can view a photo gallery of “Harry’s Climb” on the Catholic Schools Office website.


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