Heartfelt tributes have been paid from friends and loved ones to tragic teenagers Tonibeth Purvis and Chloe Fowler.
The riverside spot where the girls spent their last hours has become a floral memorial to the 15-year-old and 14-year-old who died on Tuesday after getting into difficulties in the River Wear.
Tonibeth from Barmston, Washington, died a hero trying to save her friend Chloe who police believe went into the river to cool down from the heat.
Teddies, moving messages and flowers pinpoint the spot where the girls spent the day relaxing with friends before tragedy struck just before 3pm, close to Fatfield Bridge.
Towards the Biddick Inn, the green that on Tuesday was cordoned off as emergency services launched their frantic search for the girls, is now a peaceful area adorned with floral tributes.
On the riverside at the point where Tonibeth and Chloe entered the murky water, a wooden heart was tied to a tree with yellow ribbon, in a hope of saving others from the same fate.
It simply said: “Tonibeth Purvis, aged 15 years, Chloe Fowler aged 14 years, died 23rd July 2013. Think before you swim.”
One of Chloe’s friends wrote: “You were loved so much by so many people. Always brought a smile to everyone’s faces. You always made everyone laugh and giggle. You will be missed greatly. Always in our hearts, never forgotten.”
Another wrote: “RIP Tonibeth Purvis and Chloe Fowler. God broke our hearts to prove he only takes the best. Can’t believe it was just Monday when we were jumping in the river and having a carry on. It’s such a shame it had to turn out like this for us to realise how dangerous it was.”
Coming together to share their memories of the schoolgirls, friends have created online memorial pages where there has been an outpouring of tributes from those who knew the girls, and others who have also been moved by the tragedy.
Hundreds have paid tribute to the pair. Paul Roberts said: “My thoughts go out to anyone affected by the tragic loss of these two beautiful girls. I can’t imagine what the parents, family and friends are going through. They must have been real angels. To those feeling it hard, don’t worry about how long you grieve and know that your girls will be with you forever.
“You will love go on and you will see them again. It’s an old couple of sayings, but they are true... Stay strong and in time you will cope a bit better. Lots of Love from a Washington guy that swam in the river as a kid.”
Linda Valentine said: “I can’t express how sorry I am that such lovely children have had such a tragic accident. Sincere condolences to their family and friends. Devastating.”
You were loved so much by so many people. Always brought a smile to everyone’s faces