Unique bench designed by her sister will be permanent memorial for brave and much missed Padiham schoolgirl

A unique and eye catching bench, in memory of a 10-year-old Padiham girl who touched the hearts of people across the world, has been unveiled at her school.

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 3:45 pm
Tia's best friend Chloe Metcalfe (left) could not attend the bench unveiling ceremony as she was at school so her sister Sophie cut the ribbon on her behalf.

And touchingly the bench, in honour of Tia Taggart, was designed by her sister Tegan who is 14.

It has everything on it that Tia loved including teddy bears, butterflies and angels and it is even purple, Tia's favourite colour.

Pupils and staff at St John's RC Primary in Padiham along with Tia's parents, Lee and Gill, and her grandad, gathered for the official unveiling ceremony on the last day before half term. The ceremony was due to take place in April last year, on the first anniversary of Tia's death, but had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

The lovely bench was unveiled last week in memory of Tia Taggart at her primary school, St John's RC in Padiham

Sophie Metcalfe, who is the sister of Tia's best friend Chloe, cut the ribbon on her behalf as Sophie was unable to be there as she is now at high school. The bench was then blessed by parish priest Fr Allan Swift.

Donations came flooding in last year when news was announced of the permanent memorial for Tia who underwent treatment at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital after she was first diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer called Ewing Sarcoma.

The brave youngster underwent chemotherapy for tumours in her pelvis and legs as well as rounds of radiotherapy to treat her bone and lung cancers.

Despite everything Tia went through she was always determined to help others and was a loyal fundraiser for the hospital’s charity raising thousands through her unique Jet Set Angels scheme. This was a project that started off as a classroom challenge by Tia’s teacher Mrs Carol Carlile.

Tia's parents, Lee and Gill, were the first to take a seat on Tia's bench

Children and staff started off making the tiny angels which ended up being sent around the world and championed by dozens of celebrities and even members of the Royal family.

The project is still continuing today and money from the sale of the angels is being donated to a charity for families who have suffered miscarriages. And, of course, Tia's bench will be adorned by one of the Jet Set Angels

Tia's dad Lee said: "Tia's school played a massive part in her journey, we could not have managed without the support they gave us, they became like family.

"And Tia loved being at school so we couldn't think of a more fitting place than there for the bench to be placed and we would like to say a big thankyou to everyone who made a donation.

Brave Tia with Olympian Sophie Hitchon, a former student at St John's, during her visit there in 2016.

"We are really happy with it."

A bright and happy little girl Tia was known for her beaming smile and cheeky sense of humour. She showed amazing courage and always found the positive in any situation.

The bench, which was made by Burnley Metalcraft, will be sited in the school's serenity garden that was created especially for Tia.

A quiet area, away from the 'rough and tumble' of the playground, Tia could still enjoy playtime there without fear of being knocked or hurt while she was undergoing treatment for the cancer she battled with bravery and dignity for three-and-a-half-years.

The bench will be placed close to another one there in memory of another pupil, Hayley Barker, who died aged just 17 after battling leukaemia.

As a final tribute the Jet Set Angels wrote a moving poem for the bench unveiling to show that Tia will always be remembered:

Although we seem so far apart,

You're always here within our hearts.

You filled our lives with joy and pleasure,

You were to us a precious treasure.

A little while shall pass and then,

We'll see each other once again.

Loved, remembered and held so dear,

In minds and hearts you're always here, Tia