A FORMER student whose life was tragically cut short in a car crash will always have a presence at Bendigo Pre-School.
Kirra’s Cottage, a cubby house built on school grounds in honour of the late Kirra Sim, was officially unveiled by family last week.
Kirra, who had her heart set on a career in children’s services, was just 19 years old when she was killed in a car accident in September, 2012.
The project’s planning, fundraising and construction took two years to complete, with an annual “Cruise for Kirra” event helping to raise much-needed funds.
Kirra’s mother Simone Anstee was joined by Kirra’s stepfather Martin McCarroll, brother Trent Sim and niece Nikirra Sim as she cut the ribbon to the cottage.
“It’s rewarding and an honour to open it in Kirra’s memory,” Ms Anstee said.
Bendigo Pre-School director Lisa Claxton taught Kirra as a child and their association continued years later when the teenager returned to the school for work experience.
“Kirra was a beautiful child who loved her pre-school,” she said. “She got involved in all sorts of play, but her favourite was the home corner.
“As a secondary student, Kirra participated in the work experience program. She was so bubbly in her interactions and enjoyment with what she was doing.”
Mrs Claxton said Kirra had almost completed her Certificate III and diploma in children’s services when she died.
She said the cottage, which is accompanied by a paved pathway and vegetable and sensory garden, was a fitting tribute to a special young woman.
“This (will be) such a lovely place for children at Bendigo Pre-School to have such wonderful adventures,” she said.
Former Bendigo mayor Lisa Ruffell, council’s Colleen Hildebrandt, Pat Coonan, Michael Hall, Custom Outdoor Creations, Bunnings, Rotary and the Department of Education all played important roles in the project.
Ms Anstee said her family was extremely grateful for the support Mrs Claxton had provided as both a teacher and a mentor to Kirra.
“I honestly believe that Kirra was such a kind and caring person because of what Lisa instilled in her,” she said.
The fifth annual Cruise for Kirra event will be held on November 20, with cars gathering at the Rocklea Homemaker Centre before heading to Daylesford.
Mrs Claxton said the cottage would was a fitting tribute to a young woman who had touched the hearts of many.
“Simone and friends also fundraised for a mural to go at the front of our pre-school which states ‘Our Children are Precious’,” she said.
“Never has a truer statement been made.”