THE playground where Ryan Hawkins spent many happy hours before his brutal murder has been dedicated to his memory.
And the youngster’s brave big sister, Donna, received a special award for organising the campaign which paid for a memorial plaque and bench.
Family and friends of four-year-old Ryan – stabbed to death by his father Christopher last September 23 – gathered for a special ceremony at Meal Hill recreation ground at Hill Top, Slaithwaite.
His mother, Valerie Gee, said: “He used to come here all the time with his sisters, Donna and Natalie, so it’s a good place for us to remember him.”
The plaque reads: “This play area is now dedicated to the memory of Ryan DJ Hawkins.
“Today, tomorrow and all life through, we will always love and remember you.”
Youngsters who were involved in the fundraising campaign, including one dressed as Ryan’s favourite cartoon character, Spiderman, read poems at the ceremony.
Colne Valley MP Kali Mountford spoke about the impact the shocking crime had on the community of Slaithwaite.
She said: “On that day we all woke up and realised there were cameras among us for different reasons than we have been used to before.
“It was for something terrible and we all said with one voice: ‘This is not our community. Our community is peaceful. This is a tragedy and it is not typical. We are a happy community.’ ’’
The MP said the community had rallied round to support Ryan’s family in the aftermath of his death.
And she added: “Today is very special, because they are saying back to us: ‘Thank you.’
“What an incredible community we are that, straight away, we wanted to tell them that we loved them, and their immediate response was to thank us.
“This dedication is reminding us that this where our children belong, playing happily and safely.”
After unveiling the plaque Ms Mountford also presented Donna, 14, with a Diana Award.
Donna was also attacked by her father after going to his Royd Street home to collect her brother on the day he died.
But she showed remarkable courage to recover after being repeatedly stabbed and gave evidence at Hawkins’ trial in March.
She also organised a campaign with her friends which raised about £700 for the memorial plaque and bench.
Diana Awards, set up in memory of Princess Diana, recognise young people who have raised money for charity or got involved in campaigns.
Ms Mountford said: “Donna is one of those people who brings people together, who goes the extra mile, who, when times are hard, lifts themselves up and says: ‘I’m not going to be downhearted.’
“She is one of those people who we should all be a bit more like.”
Christopher Hawkins was jailed for at least 21 years for Ryan’s murder and for trying to murder Donna.