Creative fundraiser event in memory of kind and funny Margate teenager Stefan Kluibenschadl

Stefan was kind, funny and talented

An overwhelming response has been received to a call out for people to contribute towards a creative fundraising event to celebrate the life of a Margate teenager who died after being failed by the system.

Stefan Kluibenschadl, 15, was a kind boy with a great sense of humour who loved skateboarding, rock music and being outdoors.

As a six year old Stefan was diagnosed with “high functioning autism” and after a lengthy battle with the Kent local authority, his parents Emma and Tristan eventually managed to secure a statutory Education and Health Care Plan (ECHP). He was subsequently also diagnosed with severe dyslexia.

Stefan attended Laleham Gap but he became disillusioned with school during the pandemic and the one-to-one support he was receiving was reduced to remote contact.

In 2020, Stefan started working at the weekends and during holidays. He loved his job as he felt he could just be himself and not be judged. However, an inquest into his death was told that towards the end of 2021, Stefan told his parents and his school that there had been issues after it was discovered that he attended a Special Educational Needs school and that he had autism. Stefan consequently resigned from the job.

Despite Stefan’s parents and GP trying to secure support as the youngster struggled with low moods and anxiety, Kent & Medway Integrated Care Board (formerly CCG), failed to provide this and on 20 March 2022, Stefan was found ligatured in his bedroom. He died in hospital six days later.

Key services had failed to provide Stefan with support, particularly with a key worker which NICE guidelines say should be provided to every person under 19 with Autism spectrum disorder.

In May next year Stefan should be marking his 18th birthday.

To celebrate his life Emma and Tristan are organising a creative fundraiser with an art auction, featuring art pieces to purchase, poetry performances, music, raffle, food, and drink. Any profit made will go to Stefan’s Acts of Kindness Fund [STAK] to carry out acts of kindness to support children and families in Thanet.

And the response has been huge with art donated and a venue, band, photographer and website builder already secured.

Emma, who works as a play therapist in schools, said: “It’s been phenomenal, so many people have contacted me. Thirty artists have donated artwork from sculptures and paintings to glass work, we have a band , someone has donated a venue and we are just confirming dates. There is someone photographing the event and someone who is making us a website so we can upload all the artwork.”

Last year Emma and Tristan, who now works as a trainer with the Anna Freud Centre – a mental health charity for children and families- held several smaller fundraisers including a Coronation street party and a skate event at Revolutions in St Peter’s. The skatepark event raised £850 for Stefan’s Acts of Kindness and the same amount for Papyrus, Prevention of Young Suicide charity.

Emma said: “The money we raised has paid for a young person to have counselling, a little girl to have horse riding lessons, we have just donated to a Ramsgate family whose little boy has a brain tumour and there was a gamily who needed some food shopping. The food banks only have certain foods and her son is autistic and none of the food he likes was at the foodbank.

“What my husband and I are looking into is developing a CIC around helping the community and offering support to young people. We are looking at bereavement support as there isn’t really anything in Thanet, it’s all online, the nearest face-to-face was Canterbury but the woman has just given that up so now it is Maidstone.

“We want to run art therapy in the community with groups for different ages to support them creatively.

“With CAMHS, Stefan did not meet their requirements but even if you do there are massive waiting lists and then it is talking therapies which defeats the whole point of communication difficulties and they rarely offer anything more creative based so that’s what we would like to do with access for people in the community who are struggling. It can be isolating to be a special needs parent and it is even more isolating being a bereaved parent.”

Stefan’s Acts of Kindness is based on the empathy the youngster had for others. Emma said: “He was so kind and that’s where Stefan’s Acts of Kindness comes from. Even when he was a little boy and we’d be in Margate he’d say ‘Mum, can I have a sausage roll’ then he would give it to the homeless guy outside the shop.

“At school after Stefan died parents contacted me to say he had made their child feel welcome, if they were on their own he’d go and get them and say ‘come on, play football with us.’ He was always looking out for other people but unfortunately Stefan didn’t always get that back. And that’s where we wanted to bring in that personality of Stefan.”

The couple have also created Stefan’s memory stones where decorated stones have been left at spots all over the world in the youngster’s memory.

Stefan was creative, enjoying painting, drawing, making models, and was talented at clay pigeon shooting.

Stefan’s memory stones

Emma says looking at Stefan’s drawings she can now see how school was difficult for him and she uses her experience to help other young people in her sessions to express how they feel through art.

She has also connected with Ollie Briggs of Cliftonville’s Arts Education Exchange CIC which is a creative school for disadvantaged young people.

Tristan and Emma

Emma said: We have been talking about working with him and his young people for this event and in the future. A lot of those young people have had a traumatic time in education and so this gives them a platform to showcase their talents.”

Stefan’s creative fundraiser will be held in early May. The youngster would have celebrated his birthday on May 6th but, as this is a bank holiday, the event is likely to be the preceding weekend and it is hoped with day and evening events that it will be accessible to all.

If you would like to donate art or get involved in the event contact Emma at [email protected]

Find Stefan’s Memory Stones on facebook by clicking here


  1. This choked me at the time.
    How can responsible adult colleagues mentally torture a young boy?
    The involved are really to blame for this poor kids chosen demise.

  2. This is heart breaking. The shop should be named and shamed so those that choose to can avoid giving them any business.

  3. I feel so sad for Stefan and his family as I can relate very well to their struggles. Having an autistic child can be very tiring and stressful due to their traits they show. You can be on edge with worry 24/7 as never know what will happen next. They need protecting as are vulnerable to others who mistreat them but despite so many promises the authorities still are failing many year after year. I understand funds are tight even more so these days because they have to find asylum seekers families support too which is pushing the support for children’s services to extinction. I don’t know the answers other than the Government handing over more funding specifically for kids with ASD. This is not the first time and it won’t be the last unless something drastic takes place at KCC to change how they support young autistic children and teenagers. Waiting years for their EHCP to come through is wrong and shouldn’t be allowed to happen.
    Bless young Stefan. He must have felt like nobody cares about him. What a lovely young man he was. What a waste. Good luck with the events.

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