Page last updated at 07:53 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Girl 'chokes to death on balloon'

Clarice Harron
Clarice Harron died at her friend's birthday party

A 10-year-old girl who died at a friend's birthday party is believed to have choked on a balloon.

Clarice Harron from Castlederg, County Tyrone, who would have celebrated her 11th birthday on Monday, died at the party in Spamount on Saturday.

It is understood the freak accident happened as she blew up a balloon.

Clarice was in Primary seven at Edwards Primary School, Castlederg. Her family and her friends have been stunned by her death.

Children at the school are being counselled.

The Harron family's minister, Reverend Alan Peek, whose daughter is in Clarice's class, said the whole community was grieving. He said it was a "terrible tragedy for the family".

"There is absolute shock. The children are full of questions about how and why and there is just numbness. The town is just numb after this tragic accident."

Mr Peek said parents and teachers were helping to support the children at Clarice's school who were making pictures in memory of her.

The school will be closed on Tuesday and the children are to be involved in the funeral service.

'Infectious smile'

"Clarice was a bubbly, happy 10-year-old girl with an infectious smile," he said.

"She loved Hannah Montana, glitter and make-up just like so many 10-year-olds."

He said the whole community's thoughts and prayers were with her family.

In a statement, the Western Education and Library Board's Chief Executive Barry Mulholland said he wished to extend his deep and sincere sympathy, on behalf of board members and staff, to the Harron family.

"Sympathies are also extended to the staff and pupils of Edwards Primary School," the statement said.

"The board's critical incident response team has been deployed to offer support to pupils and staff at Edwards Primary School at what will be a very difficult time for the school, families and the local community."

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