Ella Adoo Kissi Debrah’s mother raises money for a pollution-absorbing statue in her memory

The mother of a nine-year-old girl who died of air pollution is raising money for a memorial sculpture – which will also absorb dangerous particles from cars.

Ella Adoo Kissi Debrah, from Forest Hill in Lewisham, died nine years ago this week after developing a severe form of asthma when she was seven years old.

She was the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as the cause of death on their death certificate.

Her mother Rosamund Adoo Kissi Debrah, who is now an air pollution campaigner, has started a fundraising campaign for a sculpture to commemorate the 10th anniversary of her death next year.

The sculpture would be displayed in Mountsfield Park, in Lewisham, where Ella often played as a child, learning to skate, scoot and cycle.

She is hoping to raise £75,000 for the artwork, which will show Ella’s sleeping face surrounded by flowing forms inspired by flight and nature.

More than £3,000 has already been raised for the project and Rosamund hopes that more South Londoners will get involved.

She said: “Whether it’s a school cake sale, or a sponsored scoot we’d be extremely grateful if people in South London wanted to get involved and help raise awareness of just how terrible air pollution is in this area, at the same time as raising funds for the sculpture.

“We need to have more conversations about air pollution to help us understand how bad it is for our health.”

Sketch of what the sculpture will look like (image: Jasmine Pradissitto)

The sculpture will be made from a material called NOXTEKTM which absorbs Nitrogen Dioxide (N02) – a polluting gas that is produced by petrol and diesel cars. 

It will be made by Sydenham-based sculptor and scientist Dr Jasmine Pradissitto who has pioneered the use of the special material after her own brush with severe asthma. 

Six years ago her son was admitted to the same hospital as Ella had been, with a major asthma attack.

She said: “I had never seen anyone have a major asthma attack until then, and knew I had to address it in my work.”

Dr Pradissitto plans to surround the artwork with a wild meadow, saying it will be “a combination of art and nature that can touch every single one of us, and remind us we are all connected to each other and our planet.”

Other artwork by Dr Pradissitto include Flower Girl, made in 2020 for a specially planted bee garden at the Horniman Museum, and Breathe, which was designed to encourage commuters to use less polluted streets around Euston station.

To donate, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/first-breathe-for-our-future-ancestor

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