THREE years ago a trio of lifelong friends were planning a school reunion to mark the year of their 40th birthday - but tragedy struck.
One of the women, Joanne Richardson, was killed along with her six-year-old daughter, Mya, when the car she was travelling in with her loving husband, Ian, and two daughters was hit by another vehicle travelling on the wrong side of the A1.
Ian who survived the smash with their youngest daughter, Ava, now three, has since channelled his energies into raising thousands of pounds for the Jo and Mya Trust.
And Julie Dobson and Maxine Filby, Joanne’s friends who were working on the Manor College of Technology reunion with her before the accident, have now organised the event for leavers from 1986 to raise money for the trust.
Julie, 43, a PCSO in the Fens and Rossmere area of town, said: “It was our 40th year when we were planning the reunion but obviously we shelved those plans after we lost Jo.
“But the reunion was something Jo was really passionate about so we thought the timing was right to do it now.
“Jo was such a lovely girl and everyone knew her would say the same thing about her.”
Ian said he was “proud” the reunion will retain the link to Jo.
“Having gone back to the school it was strange walking where Jo would have walked,” said Ian, 40.
“She would have loved to have gone to the reunion, anyone who knows Jo knows she loved nothing more than a good dance.
“It’s fabulous that Julie and Maxine are raising money for the trust, people come up with such generous ideas to help raise awareness.”
The reunion will take place at Seaton Carew Cricket Club on Saturday, September 14.
Julie, a mum-of-three and stepmum-of-two who is married to Neil, 51, added: “The feedback so far has been very good, it would be great to get a fantastic turn out and raise as much as we possibly can for the trust.”
Tickets, priced at £10, can be bought by calling Julie on 07921 861061.