School memorial to honour Jessica

Pictured at the bench memorial are Trevor Robson, Jessica's sister Nicole with Molly and Julie Robson.
Pictured at the bench memorial are Trevor Robson, Jessica's sister Nicole with Molly and Julie Robson.

A school memorial to a much-loved former pupil was unveiled on the day she would have been celebrating her 21st birthday.

Jessica Robson died when she was 18 after a brave fight against an extremely rare form of cancer.

During her illness she started a charity to support other young people with the disease and Jessica’s Sarcoma Awareness, driven on by her family, has now raised more than £160,000.

The charity has received significant support from her former school, Cramlington Learning Village, and in front of her family, friends, teachers and current students, a permanent tribute to her was revealed in its grounds.

Twenty members of the Art Club, under the guidance of the head of art Louise Clazey, worked on the specially-designed mosaic tiles that form a key part of the bench memorial.

Her father Trevor Robson said at the unveiling: “Although it’s a tough time for us, Jess wouldn’t have wanted anybody to be unhappy today.

“She loved birthdays and Christmas.”

The horseshoe-shape of the bench meant nobody was left out, he said, and that would have been very important to his daughter. It reflected her love of horses as well.

In addition, the bench was positioned so her favourite teacher Dave Paterson could keep an eye on it from his office.

Materials and production were provided free by local businesses.

Alongside Jessica’s mother, Julie, Mr Paterson came up with the idea for the memorial.

He has led the school’s fund-raising activities, which have now raised £10,000 for Jessica’s Sarcoma Awareness.

“I think it’s a fantastic reflection on the students here that they do so much for Jess’ charity although they never knew her,” he said.

Julie Robson, who had not seen the finished memorial before she helped unveil it, added: “It’s next to the library where she loved to read her books. It’s beautiful.”

During her illness, Jessica and her family were able to spend valuable time together – away from hospitals – in a caravan on the Northumberland coast.

These experiences inspired an ambition by the Robsons to build a lodge to be used for respite breaks for other families with ill children.

This dream has come a step nearer this month with the start of the planning process for a site near Haydon Bridge.

The family hope the lodge can be built later this year.

Also present at the ceremony was Jessica’s dog Molly. She had been bought to encourage her to go for walks.

In a tragic coincidence during Jessica’s lifetime, Molly – now six-years-old – had to have a leg amputated after being affected by cancer.