THE funeral of a courageous disabled East Preston girl will be taking place today (October 21) at Worthing Crematorium.
Iona-May Thorne, seven, suffered from quadriplegic cerebral palsy and died last Thursday.
The seven-year-old’s family, who have been touched by the tributes paid by friends, family and strangers, are now welcoming the public to the funeral, which they are saying will be a ‘celebration of life’ for the youngster.
The family are asking people to come dressed in the colours of the rainbow for the afternoon with the service due to start at 1pm.
In a tribute to the Gazette, Iona-May’s mum Vicki, of Roundstone Drive, said: “I am just so very overwhelmed at the amount of support and messages we have received, daily.
“I am receiving messages from strangers even who explain they have been following Iona-May’s story for many years, wanting to send their condolences.
“It is really heartwarming to know just how many people’s hearts she touched and how loved she was.
“I am clearly devastated and it’s going to take a very long time to recover but we have a huge amount of support around us.
“It pains me that she won’t be here for the birth of her baby brother/sister but I take comfort that she decided it was the right time for her and that she felt comfortable and happy in her new home to rest here.”
For several years Vicki and the family had been campaigning to raise £70,000 to improve the ground floor of their home and dramatically improve the quality of life for Iona-May.
The work, which was featured on Channel 4 property show, Double Your House for Half the Money, was completed just weeks before the youngster died.
The family have asked well-wishers to make a donation which will then be split between the four charities that have supported Iona-May through her life – the Camelia Botnar Children’s Centre, Worthing, Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice, Poling, Worthing Kids and Dappersnapper and the educational organisation, Worthing Portage Service.
Those wishing to donate can do so online, via PayPal, to info@helpionamay or by cheque, addressed Help Iona-May and delivered to 86 Roundstone Drive, East Preston, BN16 1ER.
Vicki added: “Iona-May has given me the best seven years of my life and has taught me so much about life, people and kindness and about what really matters.
“I feel blessed to have been privileged to be her mummy and will always be so very proud of everything she achieved in her short little life.”