Josie King's family mark what would have been her 17th birthday as the niece she never met looks on
It should have been Josie King’s 17th birthday, but the Sunderland teenager’s life was cruelly cut short when she was just 15-years-old.
On Thursday night Penshaw Monument lit up in yellow to raise awareness of the disease, while her loved ones also held a candlelit vigil in the evening.
Earlier in the day her sister Jessica, 23, and friends gathered on Roker seafront to release two J shaped balloons – one for her and the other to represent her niece who has been given her name.
The spot was chosen as that was where Josie had played with her family just the day before they got her devastating diagnosis.
Jess is now mum to 16-week-old Josie Rae Robinson, and she has also changed her career plan to become a teacher to work as a children’s ward healthcare assistant after seeing the work of medics while her sister was cared for in hospital.
Josie, who was a Sandhill View student and a keen boxer, also left brother Jack, 15, dad John, 52, and mum Donna Doneathy, 43, heartbroken by her death.
For a time Donna told herself Josie was on holiday to try and cope with her grief.
Jess, who became a parent with partner Michael Robinson at the end of August, said: “I never really knew what I was going to call my daughter, but then as the time went on I knew right from the start I had to call her Josie after my sister.
”I was worried in case it may have been a little too much on my Mam and Dad, but when I finally broke the news and threw a few hints on the name they could not have been any happier.
“She reminds us every day about the happy memories we shared with my sister.
“We also called her middle name Rae after Michael's grandad who is also in heaven.
“Josie Rae brings so much happiness into our lives since the day she was born.
“Me and Michael could not be any more proud of our little girl and the things she does for being nearly four-month-old, it’s sometimes as though she has been here before.
"Everyone always says she is the spit and double of her Auntie Josie.
“She sure has a little temper and if she wants something she will get it.”
Jess says she thinks that Josie would have been a fantastic Aunt to Josie Rae.
She said: “I remember a few minutes after having Josie Rae in the hospital and I turned and looked at my Mam in tears saying Josie should have been here.
“Josie would have been the best auntie any girl could have wished for.
“She would have been like her fairy godmother but instead, she is her guardian angel.”
Friends of Josie planned to have a meal in her honour, with a series of gestures made by her school to help remember her since she died.
”We could not thank her friends and the community enough for their help and support since the passing of Josie,” added Jess.
“I would like Josie to be remembered for the brave girl she was, she was such a fighter and she never complained once and if I was to message her asking if she was ok her reply would always be yes are you?
“She was such an inspirational young girl for being so young it amazes me every day.
“If the world was more like Josie it would be a wonderful place to be.”