Archie Battersbee vigil sees hundreds pay tribute as mother Hollie Dance cries after speaking to mourners
Hundreds of visitors have come to pay their respects to 12-year-old Archie Battersbee, whose life support was removed following a lengthy court tussle. In Archie's hometown of Southend, Essex, a crowd gathered at the bandstand in Priory Park on Sunday, August 14. People were seen holding up purple balloons with ‘forever in our hearts’ written on them. Cards with the message ‘a mother’s love,’ and a photo of Archie and his mother, Hollie Dance, were hung from a pine tree.
Children were seen playing with bubbles as music played from speakers in the background. As a sign of respect, one person lighted a purple flare and held it in the air. Archie's mother addressed the group and thanked everyone for coming. She said, “Thank you so, so much for supporting us while we were in that awful place. I hope you all stand by me in trying to change this law, Archie’s army so that no more of our children and their parents go through this.” When asked how she'd like her son to be remembered, she said, "For the fun-loving little boy that he was. He's just energetic, very sporty, very talented little boy."
Then, hundreds of purple balloons were released into the air and Hollie Dance was seen wiping away tears from her eyes as the balloons soared in the sky. "These are people from his home town, I didn't actually expect as many people to be here," Hollie told ITV News at the vigil. "Just people coming up saying they've followed Archie from the start and his journey... it's really touching."
Hollie had addressed the media earlier in the evening. When asked how the last few months had been Hollie said, “It’s been really hard. It was a fight for my little boy’s life. If I had to go back and do it again I would fight equally as hard. I will continue this fight. I have got no intention of giving up, Archie wouldn’t want me to give up, he would definitely want me to continue. Things have got to change.”
In a speech to mourners, his mum Hollie Dance vowed to continue her fight to change the law around consent to remove life support. She added that Archie's previously expressed beliefs should have been taken into consideration during her lengthy court battle to save him. She said, “Archie’s beliefs and Archie’s religion, what Archie would have wanted, just wasn’t taken into account – it was just brushed under the carpet.” After weeks of legal fighting, Archie passed away on August 6 at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, after ventilator support was removed.
Since Archie's mother discovered him unresponsive at his Southend, Essex, home on April 7, he had been in a coma. A mix of medical procedures, such as ventilator support and medication, were keeping him alive. Following a diagnosis of ‘brain-stem death’ by the medical professionals who had been caring for Archie for the previous four months, his family engaged in a protracted court battle to maintain his life support in the hopes that he might recover.