We woke up to the most heart breaking news on Monday morning - that Kelly Turner, the girl who united our entire community, had passed away.
Our thoughts are with her parents Martin and Linda, who fought relentlessly to save their daughter. They needed to raise £1 million for treatment in the US. And in a year they raised more than half that target. They did so through tireless campaigning which inspired the people of Dover.
The response from the Dover community has been incredible. So many people got involved to do their bit for Kelly. It felt like the whole town was pulling together. Whether you knew Kelly personally or not, it didn't matter. Everyone wanted to help. To give Kelly the chance and the hope she deserved.
And this is part of what makes Kelly's death, aged 17, so devastating. It feels like the passing of this incredible brave girl is more than just a single life lost. It's the loss of someone who united the entire community. The town is in mourning and Kelly and her family will be in our thoughts when we pause for a minute’s silence on Sunday.
The devastation also hits hard at the thought of Martin and Linda having to say goodbye to their beautiful daughter. A girl with real artistic talent who had so much potential. Yet not only was she talented – Kelly’s determination and drive was clear for all to see. Her determination to battle a rare form of cancer which weakened her body day by day - yet her spirit was always strong. Her determination to keep fighting against the steepest odds - and always keep smiling. To get up, go to school and achieve great results in her GCSEs.
Kelly was a softly spoken, polite young girl. Yet deep inside there was a fire raging. She refused to let her spirit be beaten.
Kelly was a true inspiration. None of us doubt that she could have achieved great things. Yet all she wanted - more than anything - was to live.
This has been cruelly denied her. It leaves us asking painful questions. Why does this have to happen? Why Kelly? Why was she taken so young? These questions are all the more painful because we cannot begin to answer them.
We feel angry - that despite doing everything we could it still wasn't enough to save Kelly. We grieve because we feel one of Dover's brightest lights has gone out.
So what can we do? We must follow Kelly's example. We must keep a fire burning in all our hearts. We must remember Kelly for who she was - the girl who united our town and always stayed strong.
I will remember Kelly as the girl enjoying herself at Dover Music Festival this summer - smiling and dancing like a teenager should - in the moment, loving life. Defiant and brave as always.
Kelly and her family will always be in our hearts. We will never forget her fight and her spirit. In Dover, her light will never go out.
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