Family’s devastation over death of Hartlepool son, 19, at Leeds Festival

James Houghton with his parents Peter and Paula and sister Jenny
James Houghton with his parents Peter and Paula and sister Jenny

“ENJOY yourself, be safe, I love you”.

Those were the caring final words of loving Paula Houghton to her beloved son James as he went out with his pals to celebrate his A-level results the night before she went on holiday.

Less than two weeks later, Paula and husband Peter received a phone call while holidaying in Greece with the heartbreaking news that James had collapsed and died at Leeds Festival on Sunday night. He was just 19.

Today, his devastated family paid a touching, heartfelt tribute to their “special boy”.

With tears rolling down her cheeks, Paula, 49, said: “The last time I saw him we had been celebrating his future.

“Now we won’t see him grow up, we won’t see him get married, we won’t see him become a dad.

“I’m just happy I told him I loved him when I saw him last.

“He looked happy, he looked at peace.”

Proud dad Peter, 54, added: “He was a bright, clever, articulate young man who was starting to make plans for his future - and he had a big future.”

Peter described the horror of hearing the devastating news as they were on holiday as “like being stuck in prison” as they desperately tried to arrange a flight home at the first possible opportunity.

The last time they saw James they had been out for a meal and sipped champagne together at home before he went out with his pals to celebrate his A-Level results.

The teenager had achieved B grades in history and law and a C in biology and was looking forward to Leeds Festival with his friends. He was due to start at Manchester University next month.

Peter added: “One minute it doesn’t feel real, then the next minute we just have these huge eruptions of emotion.

“We just feel empty, he was only 19.

“I would rather have died myself and let him live his life.”

His devastated older sister, Jenny, 25, who works at Hart Biologicals, said: “We’ve only got good memories, and so many of them.”

A former Manor College of Technology and Hartlepool Sixth Form College student, James was a keen musician and member of Red Dreams as well as being a big Pools fan.

He fell ill and collapsed on the Bramham Park site at around 11.20pm and despite the best efforts of medical staff he was pronounced dead.

His family will have to wait for a post-mortem to find out exactly what killed their beloved James.

They revealed he did suffer with an underlying condition which caused him to collapse suddenly while on a family holiday in Tenerife when he was 14.

Paula, who is a deputy year head leader at Manor College, said: “He had suffered with a very rare condition which doctors said was like a migraine all over the body but he had been absolutely fine and had no problems with it recently.”

She added: “He was loyal, funny, approachable, a teenager with principles and very philosophical.

“He loved his family so much and brought nothing but credit to his family.

“We are now never going to be able to celebrate his future, but we can celebrate his past.

“He will always be by our side no matter what, he will never go away. There is too much love for that.”

The funeral will be held next Friday, September 6 at Stranton Crematorium at 11am.

Everyone is welcome, but his parents have asked for family flowers only.