Burnley mum to run charity race in memory of daughter (15)

A mum whose “courageous, smiling and caring” daughter died aged just 15 is gearing up for a tough charity challenge in her memory.

Michelle Howarth’s brave daughter Demi-Leigh battled ill-health all her young life – suffering kidney failure and even having to have her right leg amputated because of thrombosis.

But the teenager suffered a heart attack three years ago and devastated Michelle took the difficult decision to turn off her “best friend’s” life support machine.

Now Michelle, of Clare Street, is preparing to run the Pennine Lancashire 10K to raise money for the Once Upon a Smile charity which helped her family come to terms with the death of Demi-Leigh.

She said: “It has been hard since she passed away. It was a false smile I always had. I tried to be happy for my son Charlie – I didn’t want his childhood memories of his mum to be of his mum always on the settee crying. I carried on as best I could.

“But I didn’t think there was light at the end of the tunnel.”

However, a friend from the Manchester Royal Children’s Hospital, where Demi-Leigh was treated, rang her to say she had been nominated for the Once Upon a Smile charity.

Michelle said: “They paid for us to go on holiday to Skegness Butlins together. Going away for a week changed everything. It was absolutely fantastic.

“We have not smiled like that for a long time. I learned how to laugh again. My little boy’s smile was amazing. The buzz I felt seeing his eyes light up was priceless.”

Since then, she has been invited to a glitzy ball with top TV soap stars from Emmerdale and Coronation Street.

Michelle met Coleen Nolan and described going to the event as a “dream come true”.

She jumped at the chance to raise money for the charity and will run the Pennine Lancashire 10k alongside friend Debra Saul.

She said: “I’ve never done a run before. I didn’t even know how far 10k was – I just signed up.

“I will do anything I can for them because they helped me to smile again and gave me a new lease of life.

You can sponsor Michelle and Debra by visiting http://justgiving.com/Michelle-Howarrth. To sign up for the Pennine 10k, which takes place in Burnley on Sunday, June 2nd, visit www.forallevents