Tributes paid to Grace Jones, the inspiration behind Sunderland's Grace House

Debra Jones shared this picture of the family together on her Facebook page
Debra Jones shared this picture of the family together on her Facebook page

The girl who inspired  Sunderland's Grace House children's respite centre has passed away..

Grace Jones died on Monday. She was 18.

Grace Jones celebrating her tenth birthday with mum Debra

Grace Jones celebrating her tenth birthday with mum Debra

The former Portland College and Sunningdale School pupil inspired TV presenter Kathy Secker to launch an appeal in 2002, in a bid to bring a children's hospice to the region.

Kathy was touched when she met the High Barnes youngster while researching the need for a hospice in the North East.

Grace had been born with a mystery illness that left her disabled and unable to speak.

Parents Debra and Darren agreed to join the board of trustees and were delighted when Kathy suggested naming what was initially intended to be a children's hospice after their daughter.

Grace Hones with the Duchess of Northumberland  at the official start of building work for Grace House.

Grace Hones with the Duchess of Northumberland at the official start of building work for Grace House.

It was decided in 2014 that the centre should be a respite and short-break facility instead.

Debra announced Grace's passing on her Facebook page, posting a picture of the family together taken just weeks ago:

"For those friends who don't know, it is with great sadness to announce our most beautiful, inspirational and courageous little girl passed away peacefully at home on Monday 25th September in the loving arms of her Mam and Dad," she wrote.

"Our hearts are completely broken but we embrace the pain, for we are truly blessed to have had 18 wonderful years with our very own Amazing Grace."

Today Grace House bosses paid tribute to Grace's memory in a statement which reads: "The original idea of Grace House was inspired by Grace Jones, then a little girl whose smile and indomitable spirit enthused those who were fortunate enough to meet her.

"Grace House owes so much to Grace and the commitment, drive and determination of her loving family, who are in our thoughts and prayers at this sad time.

"Her legacy will live on through the work we do - she will not be forgotten."

A requiem mass will be held at 11.45am on Tuesday, October 3, at St Michael's RC Church in Durham Road, Houghton. Family flowers only, donations in lieu to Grace House

.