Dunedin shooting: Colourful farewell for 'beautiful children'

By John Lewis

The funeral took place at St Leonard's School, which both children attended. Photo / Ray Collins Enterprises
The funeral took place at St Leonard's School, which both children attended. Photo / Ray Collins Enterprises

If the community was overwhelmed with grief, they did well not to let it overflow.

The funeral for Bradley, 9, and Ellen, 6, Livingstone at St Leonards School today was more akin to a festival of celebration, as family, friends and fellow pupils dressed in bright colours as a tribute to Ellen, who was known for her "quite out there" fashion sense.

The celebratory atmosphere was created at the request of the siblings' mother Katharine Webb who wanted the ceremony to focus solely on the happiness the children brought and the happy times they shared with all who knew them.

Bradley and Ellen were killed by their father, Edward Livingstone, 51, as they slept at their nearby Kiwi St home on January 15.

Recent wet weather cleared for the afternoon funeral, and about 500 people attended, - many of them with their children who went to school with Bradley and Ellen.

Music was a major part of the service and included Bradley's favourite song, Rhinestone Cowboy by Glen Campbell, and a piece written especially for the funeral by one of his classmates.

Among the touching tributes was one from the children's mother, who described her son as "a very get-up-and-go sort of boy".

She said he was a dab hand in the kitchen, he was interested in how things worked, and once he put his mind to something, it was hard to stop him.

Ellen, on the other hand, was "the complete opposite to Bradley", she said.

She loved art, dancing, singing, she wasn't shy of cameras, and she was something of a free spirit - especially when it came to dressing herself.

She had fantastic hair-dos and her favourite thing to wear was t-shirts layered one on top of the other, with the top t-shirt worn over her head like a bolero jacket.

Despite their differences, Ms Webb said the two had a great bond.

"They played really well together, but they also knew how to wind each other up.

"My beautiful children, who were so caring - they were my life, and still are, and I will love them forever and ever and ever."

Tears flowed from the congregation at her moving tribute.

But overall, there was a great deal of laughter, particularly at some of the anecdotes from people who knew the family well.

One of Ellen's early childhood teachers recalled with clarity the first time she met Ellen.

She entered the room and immediately noticed a curve-shaped piece of sponge rubber lying on the floor against a couch.

She said: "that looks like a toilet," and after everyone in the room stopped laughing, they turned to find she was peeing in it.

As if to signal the end of the funeral, a front came up Otago Harbour, shrouding the school in mist as the hearse pulled away with the children.

- Otago Daily Times

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