Seven-year-old Yorkshire schoolgirl pays tribute to the big sister she never met on what would have been her 10th birthday

A Yorkshire schoolgirl has paid tribute to the big sister she never had the chance to meet by taking on a marathon fundraising challenge.

Ember Poole (left) and her big sister Rowan (right) who died aged 18 months in 2012

Ember Poole, aged seven, ran a mile a day to raise money for Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice near Sheffield, where her big sister spent time before she died aged just 18 months in 2012.

Rowan Macie Poole, who had a life-limiting condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 1, made precious memories with her parents at the hospice, but never got to meet her little sister.

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Their father Matt has already taken on a 150-mile coast-to-coast cycle ride to raise funds for the charity this year, and with mother Sarah running a marathon for the hospice in October, Ember wanted to mark the milestone occasion in her own way.

Sarah and Matt Poole

She ran a mile a day in May, completing her poignant challenge on what would have been Rowan’s 10th birthday.

Ember said: “I care about my big sister a lot and that is why I have done this fundraiser. She is special to me. Rowan would have been 10 on May 26 so I wanted to do something special for her.

“She was poorly when she was young and had to go to the stars. Some special people at Bluebell helped her a lot to try and make her feel better. I never got to see her in real life but look at her photos and talk about her a lot.”

The young fundraiser has raised £1,720 for Bluebell Wood, with support from friends, family and the local community.

The family, from Huddersfield, have been dedicated supporters of the hospice ever since they said their heartbreaking goodbyes to Rowan.

“We were told by doctors that there was nothing more they could do for Rowan so we took the decision to take her to Bluebell Wood,” said Sarah, 37, a sign language interpreter for Bradford Council.

“Her breathing support was removed and she was taken off life-support and we expected to be saying goodbye to her soon after.

“As she seemed to be coping well with less breathing support, we gave her what we now refer to as a magic bath. She smiled and laughed and kicked her legs and regained the strength that she had. It meant we had another 6 weeks with her at home.

“To have that level of support from Bluebell Wood was amazing. To have that safe space where family and friends can come and visit, and you don’t have to worry about household chores or even preparing meals, makes such a difference.”

In the final weeks of Rowan’s life they continued to visit Bluebell Wood for respite care, and even met local superstar Louis Tomlinson who was visiting the hospice. After Rowan passed away, the family returned to the hospice to spend their last moments together.

The family’s challenges for Bluebell Wood this year have so far raised almost £7,500 with more to come when Sarah takes on the Yorkshire Marathon in October.

With Matt, 39, completing his 150 mile ride in a single day, despite being struck down with food poisoning the day before, the family really have pushed themselves to the limit for the charity.

“I’m so proud of them both for what they’ve achieved,” added Sarah.

“Ember was absolutely brilliant and there wasn’t a single day when I had to persuade her to go out and do her run. She was usually up and ready to go before I was! We’ve had some fantastic support too and we’d like to thank everyone for getting behind us and helping us raise funds for a place that is so close to our hearts.”

Shannon Gossage, regional fundraiser at Bluebell Wood, said: “It’s such a beautifully moving way to mark what would have been Rowan’s birthday and we can’t thank the family enough for their support and kind words.

“We’d also like to say a special thank you to the inspirational Ember who should be incredibly proud of what she’s achieved in memory of her sister.”