Hundreds of people joined together to celebrate a the life of a girl who inspired a lasting legacy through Grace House.
Grace Jones died last week aged 18 after she was born with an illness which left her disabled and unable to speak.
Her funeral service at St Michael’s Catholic Church in Houghton was packed out as her friends and loved ones said their farewell, with Grace brought into the church to the sounds of a piper playing Amazing Grace, with the hymn then sung by the congregation.
Her coffin was adorned with a pink and white floral display decorated with the word ‘Daughter’ with several of her close family wearing yellow in a celebration of her life.
The service was led by Father Bill O’Gorman, who spoke of how he had baptised Grace in that very church when she was a baby.
He told of how Grace’s life was filled with love from both sides of her family and parents Debra and Darren.
She was the love of their life.Father Bill O’Gorman
He said: “They are heartbroken,
“She was the love of their life.”
Fr O’Gorman also said Grace had fulfilled a vocation by inspiring the fund launched in her name, with the project set up by the late television and radio broadcaster Kathy Secker, who approached Debra after hearing her daughter’s story.
Grace’s nanna Pat also offered a tribute to her granddaughter, speaking of how the Grace House Appeal became the “fruits of their labour” for both women and how it would leave behind a “legacy to her today and forever more.”
Pat spoke of how Debra and Darren had fought hard to get the care and support needed to help Grace, with a special thanks given to consultant Dr Karen Horridge.
The paediatrician was given additional praise in the order of service for the “wonderful care and support” to Grace and her family, as well as her “professionalism, serenity, honesty, generosity of spirit and her loving support.”
Pat also told of how Grace would be kissed each evening as she went to sleep with the words “goodnight angel” and thanked all those who gathered the service for helping give her one final goodbye.
The service also heard of Grace’s close friendship with other children with special needs, including her boyfriend Christopher, with the pair growing up together after they first met as youngsters.
He died a short time ago, with Grace never the same following his passing.
A collection was held in aid of Grace House, with donations in lieu of flowers also gifted to the charity.
The fund was originally set up to fund a hospice, but now offers a respite and short-break facility at its base in Southwick.
Following the requiem mass, Grace was laid to rest at Houghton Cemetery.