Growing tribute to devoted Josie
Jun 12 2007 By Paul James Chief Reporter, The Journal
A tree known for its healing properties was yesterday planted by the family and friends of Josie Grove.
The witch hazel tree was placed in the grounds of Hexham's Queen Elizabeth High School along with a plaque paying tribute to the teenager's strength, courage and happiness.
Josie, 16, died last February after her courageous decision to give up on leukaemia treatment to spend as much of her remaining months as possible with her family.
Her bravery sparked The Journal's Josie Grove Appeal, which has raised £27,000 for the Josie Grove Fund, and is now recruiting donors for the Anthony Nolan Trust's Bone Marrow Register.
Yesterday, Josie's parents Cliff and Jacqui, sister Libby, 11, and 14-month-old brother Charlie (pictured) joined schoolfriends to plant the tree, the bark and leaves of which have been used for centuries to treat bruises and bites.
Leonie Serbrock, a teaching mentor at the school, said: "After Josie died, the students approached the headmaster and asked if we were going to do something.
"The tree's flowers are bright yellow and there's a clear association with Josie's smile and her bubbly outlook."
The plaque for the tree says: "In memory of Josie Madeline Grove, who lived her life with strength, courage and happiness."
Josie's mum Jacqui last night said: "It was really nice. I actually found it a bit emotional because it was such a lovely thing to do, especially because Josie wasn't at the school for very long.
"Cliff said a few words at the planting and explained why Josie's time at the school was so special to her.
"She was only there one term, but she really appreciated being able to go to school. She just loved it, especially the artistic subjects, because she was so good at art. She made some really special friends too and it meant so much to her.
"The tree they planted is a witch hazel, which is symbolic because it is a healing plant. It has lovely yellow flowers in the spring and a lovely leaf throughout the rest of the year. It's a really pretty tree and I'm sure Josie would have approved."