Candles light way for Ethan Owens as community gathers to send its get well wishes

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The family of a boy fighting for his life were surrounded by supporters as they held a vigil in his name tonight.

More than 1,200 candles were lit outside St Oswald's Church tonight as the Dyke House community showed its love for Ethan Owens after he was knocked down last night.

Prayers have been said for Ethan Owens at St Oswald's Church, during the vigil and during mass.

Prayers have been said for Ethan Owens at St Oswald's Church, during the vigil and during mass.

The nine-year-old is in James Cook University Hospital in a critical condition after he was involved in a collision with a Range Rover in the Marina Way area at around 5.45pm.

This evening's event was organised within just a few hours by staff and volunteers at the Wharton Trust and its Annex community centre, who know Ethan and his family well.

Father Graeme Buttery, the parish priest of St Oswald's began the ceremony by leading a speech before Ethan's loved ones released blue balloons, followed by the crowd's.

Ethan's name was spelt out in tealight candles alongside a heart, with the display later added to by his friends and around a memorial in the church grounds.

People add their candles to the display which spelt out 'Ethan' and a heart in tea lights.

People add their candles to the display which spelt out 'Ethan' and a heart in tea lights.

Margaret Cooper, 62, is his nanna.

She said: "It means a lot to me.

"It's just so overwhelming to know how many people are here for him and thinking of him.

"We've had lots of messages.

Blue balloons are released by the Dyke House community.

Blue balloons are released by the Dyke House community.

"I've been to the hospital today and his mam and dad are there now."

She also appealed for calm following upsetting messages had been seen by the family on Facebook in regards to the driver involved in the collision.

An inquiry by Cleveland Police is ongoing and witnesses have been urged to make contact with investigators.

Ethan is one of seven children, three boys and four girls.

Wellwishers add to the display of candles outside St Oswald's Church.

Wellwishers add to the display of candles outside St Oswald's Church.

Also among tonight's crowd was his sister Lauren Appleby, 15.

"I would like to thank everybody for coming, we really appreciate it," she said.

"He would have loved seeing it."

Teresa Driver, youth and community co-ordinator at the Annex, said: "I think the turn out has been amazing.

"The volunteers and staff all worked together.

"It's a close community, Dyke House, and we're always there to support each other."

Fr Graeme Buttery addresses the group before the ballon release.

Fr Graeme Buttery addresses the group before the ballon release.

Jade Brombey is another member of the team.

"We're all members of the community and we're really close to his family," she said.

"Us and a group of volunteers got it all together in four or five hours."

Joe Pullman also lent his support to the vigil and is a trustee of the trust.

He said: "I was very pleased to see so many people come out."

Jesmond ward Councillor Sandra Belcher also attended the gathering.

She said: "It's just absolutely brilliant to see so many people and it was a very emotional event.

"There is great community support here and we all wish Ethan and his family well."

Andrea Peart helped hand out candles to the supporters.

He son Aaron McClacklan sits next to Ethan in school and has been devastated by the incident.

"I got a phone call from the school to say Aaron was really upset today.

"They're so close the pair of them.

"I came here to pay my respects to him and the family and it's been a good turn out.

"We want him to get well soon."

Jan Phillips, another volunteer, said: "I had said to day let's get Dyke House community together and show our support for Ethan and his family

"We're all here to support them."

Fr Buttery told the crowd he had seen Ethan yesterday, just hours before the collision, with the lad included as the mass intention, with prayers led for Ethan.

He told the Mail: "Ethan lives just around the corner and goes to Jesmond Gardens, so I know him from school.

"This is a very close knit community and we all support each other and I know this will be a comfort to his family."

A full video of the event can be watched through the Hartlepool Mail's Facebook page.