THE mother of Megan Roberts has thanked her friends and family for helping her prepare to spend a milestone birthday without her daughter.
Jackie Roberts turned 50 this week, and her daughter would have turned 21 on September 16, and Jackie said she would be meeting up with friends and family to mark her first birthday without Megan, which she called "an incredibly painful time".
York St John University student Megan went missing following a night out in York in January, sparking weeks of searches of the River Ouse. Her body was found in the river at the beginning of March.
Jackie said that before Megan went missing, she was planning on marking the joint milestones by taking a holiday with her daughter, and she was heartbroken she would never get the chance.
She said: "I had planned to take Megan on holiday to celebrate our two milestone birthdays together. She didn't even know, as the day I was discussing it with family, unbeknown to us, Megan was already missing. It breaks my heart.
"I hadn't got a holiday destination in mind really, just that it would have been somewhere sunny as Megan hadn't had a holiday abroad for quite a while. Now, both mine and Megan's friends are helping me celebrate both birthdays as best we can. It keeps Megan's spirit alive. I have to keep moving forward as positively as I can. Megan wouldn't want it any other way."
Megan was the first of four people to have died in York's rivers in the first five months of this year, including 22-year-old Ben Clarkson, 18-year-old Tyler Pearson, and 41-year-old Doctor Mandeep Ahluwalia.
River safety has become a key issue since the deaths, with The Press launching its Take Care campaign, and Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan heading a River Safety Summit in March.
The summit led to a number of organisations involved in the issue of river safety carrying out studies on the area looking at how further tragedies can be prevented, the results of which are due within weeks.