FAMILY, friends and teachers have paid tribute to a teenager they say will live on in their hearts while opening a garden in her memory.
Katie Washington, 17, and her mum Susan, 47, were killed in a head-on car crash at Chollerford, near Hexham, in February last year.
And last week, her dad Colin, brother Nathan and sister Rachael were at Percy Hedley School in Killingworth to open a new outdoor classroom in Katie’s honour.
Students at the school decided on an external area as their classmate Katie, who had speech and language difficulties, loved outdoor pursuits – and they were supported by a £45,000 donation from Colin’s bosses at Procter & Gamble.
Colin, of Humshaugh, an operations manager at P&G’s Seaton Delaval factory, said: “We planted a tree outside the school shortly after we lost Katie, and everything has grown from there.”
The project includes an outdoor area to support holistic development of learning, planting beds and a quiet area for students.
Colin’s colleagues at P&G spent a day helping pupils plant flowers in the garden ahead of its opening.
David Charlesworth, site leader at the Seaton Delaval plant, said: “P&G has more than 400 employees at its manufacturing plant here, and every single one of us was so deeply moved by the tragedy Colin faced last year.
“We are so pleased to have been able to support him by creating this memorial garden with the pupils at Percy Hedley School in memory of Katie.”
Headteacher Lynn Watson added: “Katie joined our school in 2004 when she was 11, and for the six years she was with us, she contributed greatly to the success of the school.
“Katie was one of the most endearing young ladies we have had the pleasure of working with at Percy Hedley.
“Her kindness of spirit, hard work and gentle nature were inspiring.
“Katie’s family were true supporters of Percy Hedley, and the new classroom is a fitting memorial to her, she lives on in all our hearts.”