Fundraising continues in memory of River Wear tragedy teenager

Friends and family of Tonibeth Purvis and Chloe Fowler take part in a walk in their memory from St Michael's church in Houghton to Fatfield bridge to help raise money.
Friends and family of Tonibeth Purvis and Chloe Fowler take part in a walk in their memory from St Michael's church in Houghton to Fatfield bridge to help raise money.
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FRIENDS of a teenager who drowned in the River Wear have been taking part in a series of fund-raising events in her memory.

Tonibeth Purvis, 15, died trying to save her friend, Chloe Fowler, 14, in the river close to Fatfield Bridge on Tuesday, July 23.

Hundreds of mourners last week gathered to say goodbye to the girls during Chloe’s funeral last Thursday and Tonibeth’s 24 hours later.

At the weekend, schoolfriends of Tonibeth’s took part in a memorial walk from St Michael and All Angels Church, in Houghton, to Fatfield Bridge.

Rebecca Young, 14, who organised the walk, said: “Tonibeth and I went to Houghton Kepier School together.

“What happened was such a tragedy and the funeral was so sad, we just wanted to do something to try to raise some money.”

Rebecca’s mum, Tracy, 43, of Houghton, said: “The kids did this off their own back, they just wanted to do something to help. I have three daughters, so when something like this happens, it really hits home.”

The fundraisers started their walk at 10.30am on Saturday morning. A bus company also laid on a special service to transport them back once they had completed the trek at lunchtime.

The walk is one of a series of gatherings held to honour the friends since their death.

Rebecca and her friends are also planning another fundraiser on September 7 at the White Lion pub in Houghton.

Hundreds of people met to say their final goodbye to the girls at their funerals, which were held separately.

A service for Chloe, of Shiney Row, was held at Sunderland Crematorium, with her parents Jeanette and David and siblings Lauren, David, Bethan, Leila, Ryan, Robert and Amy, and cousin Jade, and featured a poem read by her friend Bethany. The popular teen was described during the service as a “gorgeous girl” and a mother figure, who “would do anything” for her family.

The funeral of Tonibeth Purvis, 15, of Barmston, Washington, was held at Holy Trinity Church in Washington where mum Charlene, dad Michael, siblings Michael, Georgia, Charlie, Josh, and uncle Ross, who she lived with, gathered alongside other members of her family and friends.

The congregation heard how she was a “fun-loving, happy-go-lucky teenager”, with some of her friends wearing T-shirts printed with the words “born a princess died a hero” on the back.

It was followed by a ceremony at Sunderland Crematorium, with donations to the Great North East Air Ambulance Service.