'Little princess' Evan with sister in Heaven: Co Down mum's tribute to daughter
The heartbroken mother of a 12-year-old girl who died suddenly in tragic circumstances said she is clinging to the thought of her "little princess" being reunited with her sister in heaven as her only source of comfort.
Belinda Stanfield (46) was left devastated when her daughter Evan Cromie was found dead after being reported missing from her Carrowdore home last weekend.
She is now preparing to say her final goodbyes alongside her daughters Atlanta (26) and Marina (15) when Evan's funeral takes place tomorrow.
"Her sister died seven years ago, so she's now with her in heaven," Ms Stanfield said.
Saffron Stanfield died in hospital when she was just 17 years old.
Last night the mother of the two deceased siblings said only one thing eases her indescribable pain: "Knowing that my two little princesses are dancing in God's garden."
She said she'll never forget her little girl who was "just the best" at everything she turned her hand to. "Evan loved sport and being outside, but she was also very good at art and loved playing the guitar, she was passionate about music.
"She was just the most intelligent little girl. But above all she loved her family and friends."
Belinda said her daughter, who was finishing her first year at Strangford College, was also known for her sense of humour.
"She was such a funny wee girl. Evan was the bubbliest girl in school and was known for her big blue eyes - we called them ocean eyes," she said.
She described how she fell apart on Wednesday night when she was left alone for the first time.
"I cried and I cried and I cried. I even smashed dishes. I don't know how I'm going to get through this," she said.
She made a desperate plea to parents everywhere: "If your children want to talk, then please listen to them."
Jill Jones, the mother of one of Evan's close friends, said her daughter Lilly had "bounced off" Evan since they were in nursery school. "My daughter is really struggling, all of her school friends are. Some of them have gone silent," she said.
"A wee group of them went down to Millisle beach and they put messages in a bottle as a way of expressing themselves. Her best friend isn't coping at all, she has taken it really badly."
Earlier this week Strangford College principal Clare Foster paid an emotional tribute to a "much-loved" schoolgirl after pupils were informed of her sudden death.
"Trained staff from the Education Authority critical incident response team are helping to support us through this difficult time and are available in school to support pupils as required," the school principal added. A GoFundMe page has since been set up online to help pay for funeral costs, and last night more than £3,600 had been raised.
The service will be held in Christchurch Carrowdore at Church Hill on Woburn Road at 11am tomorrow, then on to Roselawn Crematorium at 1pm.
Belinda has requested donations be made to Aware NI and promised to donate surplus funds to the mental health charity.