A COUPLE whose first child sadly died at the tender age of five will never forget the love and care she received at school.
After a seemingly healthy birth Jessica Newton-Garrity had a difficult start to an all too short life. She began having fits and was affected by severe epilepsy and cerebral palsy which eventually proved too much for the brave little battler.
At just seven months she suffered a severe seizure and was in intensive care for almost two months.
Jessica was given little chance of survival and her parents Mike Newton and Emma Garrity had her baptised while she was on life support. But she battled through and her parents are forever grateful for the top class attention she received at Lansbury Bridge school, Parr.
Six and a half years ago Mike teamed up with four friends to run the 20 miles from Southport to St Helens to raise funds to upgrade the school’s light sensory room for children at Lansbury Bridge.
Devoted dad, Mike aged 33, explained: “Jessica loved her fibre optic lights in the sensory room, it was a place where she could relax and I wanted other children to benefit from them.”
And mum, Emma, recalled:"The disability meant she seemed to have lost all her emotions, but six months before she died, she started laughing again and came on leaps and bounds."
Mike and Emma live in Napier Street, St Helens with Jessica’s 10 year-old brother, Ryan, and four year-old sister, Millie.
Now Mike is setting himself another challenge by cycling from Blackpool to St Helens to raise more funds for Lansbury Bridge School in Jessica’s memory
He will leave Blackpool at around 9am on Saturday and cycle the 45.4 miles hoping to arrive in St Helens no later than mid-afternoon.
“My father-in-law 50 year-old Paul Garrity and Jessica’s uncle, 15 year-old Cowley pupil Keiron Garrity will ride with me and we will be raising funds for Lansbury Bridge School,” said Mike.
“I’m only repaying the school for what they did for us. I feel that children with disabilities deserve the best of everything.
“If anyone wants to support the bike ride and make a donation to Lansbury Bridge they should contact the school.”