Hundreds of devastated supporters turn out to pay their respects to brain-damaged toddler at heart of legal battle who has died after five days without life support

Posted on April 30, 2018.

Devastated supporters of Alfie Evans sang 'You'll Never Walk Alone' through tears today as hundreds of blue and purple balloons were released into the sky.

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More than a thousand people gathered outside Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool this afternoon for the emotional tribute to 23-month-old Alfie who died in the early hours of this morning.

His ‘heartbroken’ parents, Thomas Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, said their ‘gladiator’ son ‘grew his wings’ at 2.30am.

The desperately ill youngster suffered from a ultra-rare brain condition and had been in a deep coma for more than a year.

Families who gathered in Springfield Park – close to Alder Hey where Alfie was being cared for – sang through tears as a final tribute for the ‘little soldier’.

Close family friend Laura McKenzie thanked everyone for coming, adding: ‘Tom and Kate really appreciate everyone coming and showing their love.

Hundreds of supporters filled the park close to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, where Alfie was being cared for’, to make one last tribute to the youngster

Supporters sobbed as they sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ before releasing hundreds of blue and purple balloons outside the hospital

The desperately ill youngster suffered from a ultra-rare brain condition and had been in a deep coma for more than a year

Thomas Evans’ sister Sarah Evans (left) struggled to hold back tears as she addressed the crowd. A little girl sang A Thousand Years by Christina Perry (right) before the mourners counted down from 10 and released the balloons

Thomas Evans’ sister Sarah Evans is hugged by a supporter before the balloon release this afternoon

Supporters weep and comfort one another before thousands of people released blue and purple balloons into the sky above Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool

‘So many people turned up today and it was absolutely amazing. The whole world showed how much Alfie was loved and we’ll never ever ever forget him or his name.

No one will.

‘He fought right until the very end. There was no more fighting for him to do. He did everything he could. Tom and Kate did everything they could.

‘Alfie’s so much of a fighter. He proved so many people wrong. He fought for more than four days. He proved to the world he can fight and showed us all. Alfie is a fighter and you won’t get anyone better than Alfie.’

The heartbreaking sight came after Pope Francis said he was ‘deeply moved’ by Alfie’s death.

The leader of the Catholic Church – who had earlier met with parents Tom and Alfie – added: ‘Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace.’

A balloon release was also held in Dublin while thousands of Huddersfield Town and Everton fans held a minute-long clap for Alfie at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield

Alfie’s father earlier paid tribute to his ‘gladiator’ son who stunned doctors by going on to live a further five days after having his life-support switched off on Monday.

He said: ‘My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings at 2.30am.

‘Absolutely heartbroken. I LOVE YOU MY GUY.’

The heartbreaking sight came after Pope Francis said he was ‘deeply moved’ by Alfie’s death. The leader of the Catholic Church – who had earlier met with parents Tom and Alfie – added: ‘Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace’

A balloon release was also held in Dublin while thousands of Huddersfield Town and Everton fans held a minute-long clap for Alfie at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield (pictured)

Supporters have gathered at a park close to Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool as the prepare for a balloon launch this afternoon

Carrying blue and purple balloons, more than 1,000 people have arrived at the park this afternoon for the emotional tribute to Alfie

The Alfie’s Army Official Facebook page put out a call for supporters to gather near the children’s hospital this afternoon for the balloon release

A young girl holds up blue and purple balloons this afternoon near Alder Hey Hospital following the announcement that ‘little soldier’ Alfie Evans had died in the early hours of this morning

The huge gathering outside the children’s hospital comes after Pope Francis tweeted he was praying for Alfie’s devastated parents Tom Evans and Kate James

Families are preparing to release hundreds of balloons outside of the hospital. Pictured: Children and parents arrive at the park near Alder Hey Hospital

Heartbroken: Alfie’s mother Kate James took to Facebook to announce the news that her son had passed away early this morning

Little Soldier: Alfie Evans died last night, his parents confirmed, after stunning medics to go on and live a further five days after his life-support was switched off

A supporter leaves tributes outside Alder Hey Hospital this morning after Alfie Evans’ parents announced their son had died last night at 2.30am

The children’s hospital has asked people to leave tributes to Alfie in Springfield Park, next to the hospital as supporters grow in numbers.

A statement this morning from Alder Hey said: ‘We feel sure people will wish to place tributes to Alfie along with messages of support for Kate and Tom.

‘To ensure there is sufficient space for these and to ensure the safety of all those who wish to visit, we have secured a suitable place in Springfield Park situated next to

Alder Hey Hospital. This is on the advice of Merseyside Police.

‘People will be available to direct you to that space throughout the weekend.’

One bunch of flowers came with a message saying: ‘RIP little gorgeous Alfie, touched so many people’s hearts all around the world. Never be forgotten.

‘Always a place in my heart for you. Christie, friends and family.’

Italian and Polish flags have been seen outside Alder Hey this morning, with supporters laying the national symbols or waving them near the hospital.

Supporters are gather outside Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool this morning following the announcement of Alfie’s death. Well-wishers left floral tributes and a teddy bear outside the facility

A woman is comforted outside the Liverpool children’s hospital today as mourners leave floral tributes and toys

Devastated supporters of Alfie began turning up at the hospital early this morning, leaving floral tributes and balloons after his parents announced his death

The hospital has been a catalyst for high-running emotions in recent weeks as protesters and supporters gathered outside in support of Alfie and his parents

Touching floral tributes are piling high outside Alder Hey Hospital after the youngster ‘gained his wings’

Earlier today, Alder Hey Hospital said: ‘We wish to express our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to Alfie’s family at this extremely distressing time.

‘All of us feel deeply for Alfie, Kate, Tom and his whole family and our thoughts are with them.

‘This has been a devastating journey for them and we would ask that their privacy and the privacy of staff at Alder Hey is respected.’

Today, the mother of Bradley Lowery, who died last year following a long battle against neuroblastoma, also paid tribute to Alfie.

Gemma Lowery wrote: ‘So sad to hear about the beautiful Alfie Evens I’m sending all my love to Alfie’s parents, they did everything they could for their little boy.

‘RIP sweetheart, fly high with them angels and go have some fun with my baby boy.’

Tributes from celebrities have poured in since this morning’s announcement.

Piers Morgan wrote: ‘My deepest condolences to his parents, who fought so hard for their brave little boy.’

Boxer Tony Bellew said: ‘RIP Alfie Evans… A brave little soldier all the way to the end… Thoughts are with his mother & father today.. #RIPAlfieEvans.’

Rebekah Vardy commented: ‘This morning heaven gained an angel Alfie Evans you stole my heart and the hearts of so many! May you Rest in Peace little man.

‘Thinking of you Tom & Kate! You did your little champ proud. Always @alfiesarmy.’

Lord Sugar paid tribute: ‘RIP Alfie Evans. Sad day for his parents who fought so hard for him.’

Everton FC tweeted: ‘RIP Alfie Evans. Everybody at the club is deeply saddened by the loss of the brave young Evertonian. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.’

Merseyside Police also expressed their condolences.

A spokesman said: ‘Merseyside Police would like to pass on our sincere thoughts and condolences to Tom, Kate and their families for their very sad loss following the death of their son Alfie Evans overnight.

Connie Yates, pictured with her son Charlie Gard and Chris Gard, said: ‘Our deepest condolences are with Tom and Kate after the passing of Alfie who gained his wings today’

Bradley Lowery’s mother Gemma, pictured together, paid tribute to Alfie Evans today on Facebook

‘We also pass on our thoughts to those at the hospital who have supported the family in caring for Alfie. May Alfie rest peacefully.’

And the Archbishop of Liverpool described Alfie’s struggle as heroic.

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool, made the following statement on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales:

He said: ‘I would like to express my deepest sympathy at this moment of loss to Tom and Kate as we hold little Alfie in our prayers.

‘All who have been touched by the story of this little boy’s heroic struggle for life will feel this loss deeply.

‘But as a Christian Alfie has the promises of God, who is love, to welcome him into his heavenly home.’

‘Although the past few weeks have been difficult with much activity on social media, we must recognise that all who have played a part in Alfie’s life have wanted to act for his good, as they see it.

‘Above all, we must thank Tom and Kate for their unstinting love of their son, and the staff at Alder Hey Hospital for their professional care of Alfie.

‘Now it is time for us to give Tom and Kate space to grieve their son’s death and offer our prayers for him and consolation for all.’

Earlier rumours spread that Tom Evans had barricaded himself in Alfie’s room at the hospital but the family released a statement saying that was untrue.

The youngster was at the centre of a legal battle over his treatment that touched hearts around the world.

Police had to step in to stop protesters trying to enter Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool where Alfie Evans is being treated for a degenerative neurological condition

Mr Evans regularly spoke out against bosses at Alder Hey as he argued for his son to be transferred to a hospital in Italy with links to the Vatican

Alfie Evans: Timeline of case brought by parents against hospital

2016

May 9: Alfie is born in Liverpool to parents Tom Evans and Kate James, now aged 21 and 20 respectively.

December: Alfie is taken to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital after suffering seizures. He will spend the next 12 months there.

2017

December 11: Hospital bosses say they are ‘liaising directly’ with the family after disagreements over his treatment. Alfie’s parents said the hospital has applied to the

High Court to remove parental rights and withdraw ventilation.

December 19: A High Court judge, Mr Justice Hayden, begins overseeing the case at a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London. The hospital says continuing life-support treatment would not be in Alfie’s best interests, but his parents disagree and say they want permission to fly him to Italy for treatment. The judge says he will make a decision on what is best for Alfie.

2018

February 1: A hearing begins at the High Court in Liverpool in which lawyers acting for the hospital claim further treatment for Alfie is unkind and inhumane.

February 2: One of Alfie’s doctors tells the judge there is ‘no hope’ for the youngster, who is in a semi-vegetative state from a degenerative neurological condition doctors have not been able to definitively identify.

February 5: Mr Evans tells the court Alfie ‘looks me in the eye’ and wants his help.

February 20: Mr Justice Hayden rules in favour of hospital bosses, saying he accepted medical evidence which showed further treatment was futile.

March 1: Three Court of Appeal judges begin analysing the case after Alfie’s parents mount a challenge to the High Court ruling. The family ask for the appeal hearing to be adjourned for a few weeks so they can discuss the ruling with lawyers, but the judges refuse.

March 6: Court of Appeal judges uphold the decision of Mr Justice Hayden.

March 8: Alfie’s parents ask for the case to be considered by Supreme Court justices.

March 20: Supreme Court justices decide the case is not worth arguing and refuse to give the couple permission to mount another appeal.

March 28: Judges at the European Court of Human Rights reject a bid from Mr Evans and Ms James for them to examine issues relating to Alfie’s future, saying they found no appearance of any human rights violation.

April 11: Mr Justice Hayden endorses an end-of-life care plan for Alfie drawn up by specialists.

April 12: Protesters gather outside Alder Hey hospital as Alfie’s father insists he has the right to take him home.

April 16: Alfie’s parents argue he is being wrongly ‘detained’ at Alder Hey and make a habeas corpus application. Judges at the Court of Appeal in London rule against them and again uphold the decisions of Mr Justice Hayden. The couple’s lawyer said they might make a further appeal to the Supreme Court.

Merseyside Police launch an investigation into ‘instances of verbal abuse and acts of intimidation’ among protesters outside the hospital. Judges raise concerns about reports that ambulances and staff were unable to enter the hospital and that patients and their families had been frightened. Alfie’s parents apologise, saying they did not intend to ‘harm or cause conflict or upset’.

April 17: Mr Evans and Ms James ask Supreme Court justices to consider their case for a second time, a spokeswoman confirms.

April 18: Mr Evans flies to Rome and meets with Pope Francis. He kissed the Pope’s hand and begged the leader of the Catholic church to save Alfie’s life.

April 20: The Supreme Court rules against Alfie’s parents for a second time, refusing them permission to appeal against the decision. Mr and Mrs Evans had been trying to persuade the court that Alfie was being unlawfully detained at Alder Hey hospital.

The parents make an application to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to take Alfie to Rome for treatment, instead of letting him come off life support.

April 23: The European Court of Human Rights refuse the application made by Alfie’s parents, saying: ‘The European Court of Human Rights has today rejected the application submitted by the family of Alfie Evans as inadmissible.’

A group of about 200 protesters tries to storm Alder Hey hospital, where Alfie has been receiving treatment. Police officers blocked the entrance as dozens of people charged at the doors.

Alfie Evans is granted Italian citizenship. In a bid to facilitate moving Alfie to Italy to receive treatment, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: ‘Foreign minister

Angelino Alfano and interior minister Marco Minniti have granted citizenship to little Alfie. The Italian government hopes that in this way, being an Italian citizen will enable the immediate transfer of the child to Italy.’

On Monday evening, a High Court Judge dismisses new submissions made in private by the lawyers for Alfie’s parents via telephone.

At around 9pm, life support is withdrawn by doctors at Alder Hey hospital, according to Mr Evans. He said in a Facebook post that his son had been breathing for himself since 9.17pm.

April 24: Alfie was still breathing on his own this morning, according to his father. At 7am, Mr Evans said: ‘Nine hours he has been breathing now. It’s actually come to the point where his mum is asleep next to him. She can actually go to sleep next to him. She feels comfortable with him.’

April 25: Alfie’s parents fail in an 11th-hour attempt to persuade judges to let them move the terminally-ill youngster to a foreign hospital.

April 26: Alfie’s parents pledge to work alongside doctors to give the boy ‘the dignity and comfort he needs’.

April 28: The 23-month-old – who was being treated at Alder Hey – died at 2.30am, Ms James and Mr Evans say on Facebook. ‘Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at

2:30 am. We are heart broken. Thankyou everyone for all your support,’ the post said.

Source: Daily Mail