HAPPY birthday to a very special teenager.
Grace Jones today celebrates her 13th birthday – a day her proud parents never thought they would see.
When Grace was just six months old, mum Debra and dad Darren were devastated to be told by a doctor they were likely to lose her at a young age.
Today, they are ecstatic to be celebrating such a special birthday with their daughter, after whom the Grace House Children’s Hospice Appeal is named.
Debra, of High Barnes, said: “After being told by doctors she’s going to die young, I never dreamt she’d live to be a teenager.”
The 39-year-old added: “It feels like a massive achievement.
“The pride I’m feeling, I imagine is like a mother feels when her child gets a Masters.”
Grace is disabled and unable to speak, but doctors have never been able to diagnose her condition.
She had tests as a baby, after problems with feeding and losing weight.
“The first time they told us she was going to die really young was when she was six months old,” said Debra.
“I started to go through a grieving process.
“I can’t believe she’s a teenager. I can remember thinking at the time ‘am I going to be lucky enough to buy another pack of nappies?’”
Portland College pupil Grace has already enjoyed a birthday party with friends at a farm.
And Debra and Darren, 40, a site supervisor for a construction company, arranged a special holiday in a log cabin at Kielder.
Grace’s birthday present from her parents is her first piece of jewellery – a Pandora bracelet, for which family and friends have bought charms.
Debra said: “Every birthday is a celebration, but we really want to make a fuss this year because it’s such an important one.”
Brave Grace has been through a lot in her 13 years, including surgery to put rods in her back to tackle curvature of the spine, and she has suffered from fits.
Debra said: “Thirteen is an unlucky number for some – but not for me, I’m loving it.”