SHE may be gone but her legacy continues to live on. Two-and-a-half years after inspirational Josie Grove lost her battle against leukaemia the teenager continues to help youngsters going through the same awful ordeal as she did.
Since her death in February 2007, Josie’s parents Cliff and Jacqui have worked tirelessly to keep her memory alive and raise money to help other terminally ill youngsters.
And now the Groves have produced a book of an ancient fable which helped their daughter come to terms with her approaching death, to help other children going through the same ordeal.
The beautifully illustrated book will be handed out free on children’s cancer wards and at hospices.
The Dragonfly Tale tells the story of a family of water bugs living in a pond.
One by one the bugs climb up a lily stem out of the pond and turn into beautiful dragonflies.
As dragonflies they are happier than they have ever been before. But they are unable to return to the pond where all their family are.
Yet, the dragonflies soon realise that they can watch over their water bug family until they are ready to become dragonflies too and join them.
“A Dragonfly Tale was written to help children come to terms with loss. And it is beautifully illustrated by Elinor Geller,” said Jacqui, 47.
“It is difficult for anyone to understand death. To explain it to your children when one of them is about to take that journey is a tough call. The fable about dragonflies helped us all, not least Josie.”
Josie touched hearts all over the country when after two failed bone marrow transplants, she announced she would refuse any further hospital treatment so she could enjoy her last months at home with her family.
Her brave decision, at the age of just 16, inspired hundreds of people to raise funds for young cancer sufferers and to join the bone marrow register. And the teenager’s courage prompted The Journal to launch a fundraising campaign in her name.
Josie passed away at her home in Corbridge, Northumberland. Determined that their daughter’s memory would live on Jacqui and Cliff set up a charity in her name.
Josie decided how she wanted money raised in her memory to be spent, and Josie’s Dragonfly Fund now has two functions – to provide crafts and activities to children in all the specialist cancer wards and to give grants of £500 to every child told their disease is incurable so they can use the money to do whatever they want.
Since Josie’s death her family have moved to Thailand where the Groves run a jewellery factory. But their work to keep Josie’s memory alive and raise money in her name continues.
The shop that was once the family business in Hexham has now been transformed into a base for the charity. And the dragonfly pendant, which Josie designed, continues to be a big seller.
Jacqui has spent the last two weeks in Hexham packing boxes of arts and crafts materials to take into children’s cancer wards across the UK.
“It was slightly exhausting but I know how much it is appreciated so it was well worth the trip,” she said. “This is something that Josie particularly wanted us to do. I have great memories of the day she delighted in spending £3,000 in Hobbycraft for Children on the Teenage Cancer ward at the RVI
“She was pushed along the aisles in her wheelchair by friends and had them wheeling her back and forth to make sure she didn't miss anything.”
“It gave Josie a real buzz as she knew what a difference it was going to make.”
The charity continues to go from strength to strength, proving that Josie may be gone but she certainly isn’t forgotten.
“This year we also reached a milestone when by August we had given over 100 cash gifts to children and teenagers where their treatment is no longer curative,” said Jacqui.
“The cash gift is £500 for them to spend on whatever they like. Josie was given money from well-wishers and this was something that made a huge difference to her. It gave her back a sense of control when she was totally dependant on us and the hospital.
“Each request is very individual and a reminder of how positive these kids can be at such a terrible time. One teen wanted driving lessons, another lad wanted the money to finish his model railway. It takes your breath away and I shed many tears over the requests, but then it is so rewarding.
“I know Josie will be there for each of them one day. Meanwhile we will continue what she started here in her last months.”