Lyra McKee was 15 years old when she first joined Headliners (formerly known as Children’s Express) in Belfast and more recently became a trustee of Headliners (UK). She was killed in Derry/Londonderry on the 18th April 2019. You can read the statement from Headliners (UK) here.

In a letter to her 14 year old self that she published on a blog a few years ago she described how the experience with the staff and young people at Headliners Belfast had impacted on her:

‘Life is so hard right now. Every day, you wake up wondering who else will find out your secret and hate you. It won’t always be like this.

It’s going to get better.

In a year’s time, you’re going to join a scheme that trains people your age to be journalists. I know the careers teacher suggested that as an option and you said no, because it sounded boring and all you wanted to do was write, but go with it. For the first time in your life, you will feel like you’re good at something useful. You’ll have found your calling. You’ll meet amazing people. And when the bad times come again – FYI, your first girlfriend is not “the one” and you will screw up that History exam – it will be journalism that helps you soldier on.’

As a tribute to her, we managed to dig out some of the earliest stories she created with us to celebrate her in her very own words. 

If you are familiar with her or her adult writing, it might make you smile to hear her forthright, passionate, enquiring and often tongue in cheek style singing off the page even at the age she was. It's a style that had endured as she matured into the talented writer she was and will be very sadly missed.

Links to her previous work:

'Celebrity AIDS Advocates 'a Distraction' story 2006

'Children's Ex-stress' story 2006

'Votes at 16 film' for BBC Hearts and Minds 2007

'A Brave New World is Upon us' story 2006

'Death in the name of entertainment' story 2006

'Gaytime TV' story 2006

'Teenage Kicks' Film from 2008 about Headliners Belfast. This wasn't produced by Lyra but she features in it for a short time talking about winning the Sky Young Journalist award.

You can read the full text of Lyra’s ‘Letter to her 14 year old self' here

Photo Credit: Jesse Lowe Photography