'˜Saffie would have loved nothing more than her friends organising a huge birthday party for her'

The 10th birthday of the little girl who touched the hearts of so many people will be celebrated with a huge community event to celebrate her life.

Tuesday, 22nd May 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 22nd May 2018, 8:31 am

Saffie’s Party In The Park spearheaded by Saffie’s friends Lily and Grace Swanson will be held in Leyland on Sunday, July 8 as a fun family event to commemorate her birthday.

Mike Swanson, a close friend to Saffie’s family, is organising the event as a community celebration in memory of the youngster and is letting Lily, 11, who was Saffie’s best friend and Grace, nine, lead the party plans.

Mike, who owns SOS Computing in Leyland, which is just near the fish and chip shop where Saffie lived with her family, says Saffie’s Party In The Park will be a happy day centred on remembering the good times with Saffie.

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The event has the blessing of Saffie’s family and they are happy for Mike and his daughters to take charge and organise a day to do their daughter justice.

Andrew Roussos, Saffie’s dad, who has since moved down south with his family, says: “Mike is a great guy and Saffie was a big part of his life too.

“Mike has got the girls involved in bringing the community together with this event in honour of Saffie and I have told him I trust him completely and will just turn up on the day.

“Saffie’s Party In The Park is going to be all about the community having a good time to celebrate Saffie’s life.

Saffie Roussos with her friends Lily and Grace Swanson

“Saffie was all about having a laugh and a giggle and she would have loved nothing more than her friends organising a huge birthday party for her.

“I’m really glad Lily and Grace are involved in this event and it will give them something positive to focus on.

“Saffie and Lily were best friends and when Saffie used to come home from school, even before she came to the chip shop, she would call on Lily and ask her to come and play outside with her.

“Saffie would love the idea of the community getting together to support her birthday.

Saffie Roussos and Grace Swanson on a ride together

“She would have loved to have gone to an event like this if she was still with us.

“What little girl wouldn’t love a massive birthday party organised by her best friends?”

Mike Swanson, who organised a balloon release to mark Saffie’s ninth birthday on July 4 last year, says he had thought it would be a nice gesture to release a few balloons on Saffie’s birthday so he could send her family a video and photos to show how the community was behind them. He says everyone was overwhelmed when Saffie’s birthday balloon release turned into a huge event with hundreds of people gathering to let off balloons.

Mike says: “This year, everyone has been asking us what we are going to do for Saffie’s birthday and myself and the girls felt it was right to have a family fun day of celebration in honour of Saffie.

“We want the community to come together and have a great time as that is what Saffie would have wanted for her birthday and we want her to be remembered in a positive and happy way.

“The community of Leyland lost a little girl and it was the community that rallied around and supported Saffie’s family - not just through donating to the campaign but through words of comfort and by showing genuine love and concern.

“Andrew and Lisa were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from the community and took comfort from it and the idea of Saffie’s Party In The Park is to have a happy event and give back to the community who gave so much love and support to Saffie’s family.

“The aim is not about raising money but for families to have a great day in memory of Saffie.

“However, if there is any money raised, it will go to charity.”

Saffie’s Party In The Park will be held on Sunday July 8 at Worden Park in Leyland.

The event will include an It’s A Knockout competition including a celebrity team, appearances from actors and actresses including Dani Harmer who plays Tracey Beaker and stars from Shameless as well as dance performances and much more.

If any business or individuals want to get involved with and support Saffie’s Party In The Park, they should contact: [email protected]

‘I miss Saffie as there is no-one else like her’

Lily Swanson, 11, was Saffie’s best friends and the two girls were inseparable spending every free minute together and talking constantly.

While Saffie’s parents ran The Plaice fish and chip shop on Hough Lane, Leyland, Lily’s dad Mike Swanson runs SOS Computing just around the corner.

Mike’s daughters Lily and Grace, nine, spent all their free time playing outside together with Saffie and were always in and out of each other’s homes and the two families were extremely close.

Lily has had a difficult time dealing with the tragedy of losing her best friend and admits the one year anniversary feels very painful.

Lily says: “This time of year is very hard and it makes me miss Saffie more.

“Saffie was happy and joyful and we were always happy and did not argue ever.

“We were both into games and we liked playing outside together and had the same scooters.

“I miss Saffie as there is no one else like her.

“Saffie was a unique friend and I will never forget her.

“I like remembering the happy times and the good things and the fun we had together.”

Supporting each other in their grief

Saffie’s best friend Lily Swanson, 11 and her brother Xander, 12, are boyfriend and girlfriend and are united in supporting each other through their grief.

Andrew Roussos says: “Lily is Xander’s girlfriend and they have been a couple for almost two years.

“It is lovely. They are very similar characters and are both quite mature for their age.

“The call each other up and support each other.”

Mike Swanson adds: “Xander is a great lad and I have a lot of time for him.

“This time last year, when Andrew was in hospital at Lisa’s side and they had found out about Saffie, I offered to take Xander away from the hospital environment as he was only 11.

“But when I asked Xander if he wanted to come back with us, his reply was: ‘No, my dad needs me.

“It was such a mature and caring thing to say and he would not leave his dad’s side.

“Every blow Andrew took, Xander took as well.

“He is a very caring young man.”