Family and community rocked by the death of ‘angel’ Iona-May

Andrea Thorne hugs her granddaughter Iona-May following the completion of the youngster's new room. Pictured with Iona-May's carer Katie Brewster                         L36222H13
Andrea Thorne hugs her granddaughter Iona-May following the completion of the youngster's new room. Pictured with Iona-May's carer Katie Brewster L36222H13

TOUCHING tributes have been paid by the grandmother of a disabled East Preston girl, who died earlier today (Thursday, October 3).

Brave Iona-May Thorne, seven, died unexpectedly this afternoon.

The news comes just weeks after her family completed their radical £70,000 overhaul of their home, in Roundstone Drive – a project which was featured on Channel 4’s property programme Double Your House for Half the Money, presented by Sarah Beeny, last month.

In a Facebook message posted on the ‘Help Iona-May build a bedroom’ page, grandmother Andrea Thorne said: “Our precious little girl lost her fight today.

“It is indeed the saddest day of our lives.

“There are no words that can fill the huge gap Iona-May Thorne leaves behind xxxx

“She will always be in our hearts. No little girl was ever loved or wanted more than her xx”

Iona-May, a pupil at the Palatine School, in Goring, suffered from quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

When she was born doctors gave her hours to live.

But she defied all expectations and pulled through, with the loving support of her family, friends and medical staff with her all the way.

Many Herald and Gazette readers have been touched by her story.

Over the past few years, Iona-May’s family had managed to raise a staggering £70,000 to redesign their home to give her a better quality of life.

The cash paid for a ground-floor bedroom, wet room and sensory room, as well as a system of hoists to help Iona-May reach parts of her home more easily.

Since the announcement of Iona-May’s death, tributes have poured out across Facebook.

Sarah Watkinson wrote: “A beautiful little girl that made a huge impression in our lives and will be greatly missed and in our hearts forever. Thinking of you all lots of love always x x x”

Nichola Geen, the mother of disabled Rustington girl, Molly Green, 11, has been supported by Iona-May’s family.

She wrote: “Oh my god have just read so sorry have just read about Iona May I am so sorry and can’t imagine how you are coping xxx”

While Michelle Chelsea Brown said: “R.I.P to the beautiful and inspirational little girl Iona-May.

“I have followed you and your family’s story right from the beginning, although I never got the honour of meeting you, my thoughts and prayers are with you all... you touched many lives, heaven gains another beautiful angel today! xxx”

Those wishing to pay tribute to Iona-May, can email tom.cotterill@littlehamptongazette.co.uk