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Brighton celebrates life of African slave boy

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A special ceremony has been held in Brighton to remember an African slave boy who died in the city on this day (20th June) in 1870.

Thomas Highflyer was named after the Royal Navy ship that rescued him.

Thomas was brought to England but died prematurely.

As Malcolm Shaw reports, his gravestone has now been restored to preserve his story for future generations:

148 years after his death, a special service takes place to honour Thomas Highflyer, an East African boy rescued from a life of slavery.

His gravestone, long forgotten, has now been restored and replaced. Thomas was named after the British anti-slavery ship which took him aboard.

Bert Williams- Brighton & Hove Black History, said this:

Thomas was brought to Brighton, cared for by a couple here in Great College Street. He was popular at school, and loved to play cricket. But his health was failing and he died aged about twelve.

Paul Campbell from Brighton & Hove City Council said this:

Thomas attended St Mark's School. Year 5 pupils were among those paying tribute to him. His remarkable story uncovered by the Brighton and Hove Black History Group.

St Mark's School year 5 pupils Credit: ITV Meridian

It was back in January that Thomas Highflyer's headstone was removed. Since then it's undergone careful restoration by local stonemasons.

Thomas's life has struck a chord here. A Brighton and Hove bus now bears his name. And it's hoped more people will now visit his resting place, and remember on the slave boy who found peace here.