A MUM left devastated after her 12-year-old daughter died in a seaside accident seven years ago is now out to raise money for the service that helped her come to terms with her grief.
Jade Anderson was playing with three friends on rocks at Collywell Bay, Seaton Sluice, in February 2004 when they were all swept into the sea by a freak wave.
Nearby fishermen rescued two of the girls – Emma Douglas and Katie Oldfield – and Pc Darren Purvis managed to bring Beth Gardiner and Jade back to shore.
Jade died a few hours later in hospital, however.
At the weekend, Jade’s family and friends came together for a special fundraising event in memory of the popular schoolgirl to mark what would have been her 20th birthday a week ago on Monday.
Jade’s mother Sandra Bland says she would not be in the position she is now had it not been for the support of the Newcastle Healthcare Charity and its child bereavement service.
The fundraiser was her way of thanking volunteer counsellors such as Paula Appleby for helping her come to terms with the loss of Jade, pictured.
Sandra, now living in Seaton Sluice, said: “The service has been very, very helpful.
“My husband Alan says that if it hadn’t found Paula, I would have ended up having a nervous breakdown.
“I never thought for one minute that I would be the way I am now after the past few years.
“I plodded along for six years. I couldn’t look to the future. The initial counselling I had didn’t seem to help me.
“But Paula helped us look to the future and the need to focus on the little ones.”
She added: “I still think about Jade every day.
“My dad died in August 2005, and he never got over losing Jade.
“At Jade’s funeral, there were hundreds of people there. I just remember seeing a sea of faces. It was then I realised how popular Jade had been.”
Alan, Jade’s stepfather, said: “We want to help give this service as much publicity as possible.”
Paula said: “There is simply no easy fix for grief and no one way to feel or cope.
“The strength and complexity of grief bereaved parents and family members can feel may include pain, anger and sometimes guilt.
“These feelings can add to their fear for any siblings and negatively affect the rest of their lives if they’re not addressed.
“Counselling can’t wave a magic wand, but it can help explore ways in which to cope with these emotions.”
Paula has helped more than 200 families across the north east and Cumbria, working within their homes or from her base at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.
Her role is paid for entirely by charitable donations and is currently part-funded by the Newcastle Healthcare Charity and Barnardo’s.
Sandra was delighted to raise more than £1,800 to help other grief-stricken parents.
Among the guests at the event were Pc Purvis, one of the fishermen who helped in the rescue, Jade’s friends and the staff from North Tyneside General Hospital who battled to save her.
Sandra, a mother of four, is now thinking of organising a similar event next year.
She is also calling on families living by the North Sea to make sure their children are confident swimmers as she was terrified of the water as a youngster and Jade, in turn, was a weak swimmer.
“I’m terrified this will happen again,” she said. “Children, especially those living near the sea, need to be able to swim.”
For further information about child bereavement support, contact Paula on (0191) 212 0237.
To support Paula’s role and donate to the Newcastle Healthcare Charity, send cheques payable to Newcastle Healthcare Charity (Child Bereavement Service) to 203 Cheviot Court, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE7 7DN.