Croydon mother's tribute as son, seven, dies from meningococcal disease
BEAMING his "heartbreaking" smile, blue-eyed Rio Redwood looks a picture of happiness in his beloved Tottenham football kit.
Now his mum says her seven-year-old is "looking after his family from above" after he died from meningococcal disease, a bacterial infection.
His death has shocked pupils and staff at Woodside Primary School, where he was in Year 3.
"I knew Rio was a popular boy, with those bright blue eyes and heartbreaking smile, but I only realised how popular since he passed," said his mum Jo Wadley.
"He was loved by all and, it seems, he touched many, many lives."
Rio's classmates and teachers arrived at school last Monday to be told the football-mad pupil had died. The Tottenham fan, who loved to wrestle with his older brother Taylor, first fell ill with a temperature and a headache in the early hours of January 5.
When his condition deteriorated, Rio was taken to the Evelina Children's Hospital in central London, where he was diagnosed with meningococcal disease, a serious bacterial infection which can cause meningitis and septicaemia.
He was placed in an intensive care unit but passed away on January 6. Rio was never able to return home with Taylor, his sister Sienna and his mum and dad, Jo and Jay.
"I am proud of every single thing Rio did," said Ms Wadley.
"He was, and still is, along with his older brother and younger sister, my absolute world, although he did like to test my patience once in a while.
"He loved to play football at every possible opportunity and he loved wrestling, which he and his brother quite often used to practice.
"He will be missed by a lot of people, especially myself and his siblings."
Pupils at Woodside Primary were informed of Rio's death in a special assembly on January 8.
A number of teachers also took time out to discuss what had happened with their classes, and executive head teacher Claire Howarth sent a letter to parents.
"Our hearts go out to Rio's mum and dad, his brother and his sister. They are understandably in deep shock," she said.
"It is hard to appreciate their emotions at this present time but the school and community are doing everything we can think of to support them."
Ms Wadley wanted to thank the "fantastic" staff at Evelina's, whom she "couldn't praise enough".
She added: "We are all in shock and miss Rio terribly, every second of the day.
"He is my soldier, my angel and most of all my shining star, looking after us from above."
Due to the nature of a meningococcal disease, the Health Protection Agency was made aware of Rio’s death.
The agency has been providing advice to parents, but said it was very unlikely the condition would spread.
Dr Addis Taye, a consultant at its South West London Protection Unit, said: "Our thoughts remain with the family at this very sad time.
"Although it is very rare for a second case of meningococcal disease to occur, parents at the school are advised to remain aware of the signs and symptoms.
"The symptoms of meningococcal disease can include a fever, headache, neck stiffness, rapid breathing, drowsiness, shivering, vomiting, and cold hands and feet, but not all the symptoms will occur at once.
"Meningococcal disease can also cause a
characteristic rash which will not fade when pressed against a glass."