A GRIEVING girlfriend has spoken of her battle to rebuild her life after the death of her boyfriend.
Kristian Thompson died after being attacked on a night out with friends in September 2010.
The 19-year-old was asked for a cigarette – which he didn’t have – and was beaten up when he couldn’t hand one over.
He was in a coma for five days before undergoing surgery to remove part of his skull and the front lobe of his brain. He lived for 10 months before he died in July 2011.
Emily Leybourne, from Cleadon, was 17 at the time and stood by her boyfriend while he was in hospital.
She said: “I didn’t really feel like a person. I couldn’t concentrate on anything and didn’t really think about anything else. I lost loads and loads of weight.”
Emily was due to start a law degree but decided not to go to university. She was eventually persuaded to start a part-time job at Kidsclubz childcare, based at Cleadon Village Primary School, by Kristian’s mum Maxine Thompson, of Whitburn.
The 45-year-old said: “I thought Emily needed some focus and I could see that her gentle and understanding nature would be wonderful around the children.
“She is truly an inspiration to us all, and an extremely important part of our team. I’m positive Kristian is looking down on her, as proud as he could be.”
Emily, 20, has been working at Kidsclubz for just over two years and has now taken up the roll of early years coordinator, monitoring children’s development.
She has also started a childhood studies degree at Sunderland University.