Natasha brought so much pleasure and so much love

Tributes paid after death of ‘inspirational’ Ballygowan teenager

By Sarah Curran

A HEARTBROKEN Ballygowan mother has paid tribute to her ‘special wee girl’ who ‘always had a smile on her face’.

Natasha Hampton passed away peacefully at the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice last Friday surrounded by her loving family. The 17 year-old was laid to rest yesterday after a funeral service at Ballygowan Presbyterian Church.

The death of the teenager has ‘devastated’ the local community, which over the years rallied together in support of Natasha’s care, with a recent fundraiser raising over £21,000 to purchase a life-changing wheelchair.

Born on March 10, 2007, Natasha was diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder which left her immobile and non-verbal.

Although Natasha wasn’t able to talk, she enjoyed getting involved with banter and knew how to gain attention when she wanted it.

With a love of noise and laughter, Natasha was described as having a ‘mischievous’ personality, who had a smile that could light up an entire room.

Natasha attended Tor Bank School in Dundonald over the years and while she had to leave for a period of time after suffering a life-changing injury to her spinal cord following surgery in September 2019, she had recently returned for a few mornings a week.

Natasha enjoyed getting out and about with her family and while her spinal cord injury had stopped the family adventures for four years, it had been hoped that Natasha would enjoy some time away with her family thanks to the new wheelchair which had been funded with the help of the local community.

Speaking about her daughter’s life, Natalie Hampton said she had nothing but ‘unconditional love’ for Natasha and together they shared an unbroken bond.

She said: “Natasha has always been a special wee girl but a very strong wee girl. She just gave me so much pleasure in life.

“She was so inspirational. She turned my life right around and made me think very differently about life. Stupid things that people think are big things, those big things become very minor when you have a kid like Natasha.

“Natasha brought me so much pleasure and so much love. The bond between the two of us was absolutely amazing.”

She continued: “Every day we lived for Natasha. Everything revolved around Natasha. She was the boss and she called the shots. At the end of the day it was down to Natasha what we did and what our life entailed.

“That child was so strong and came through so much in 17 years of life and always had a smile on her face. She never complained at all.”

Natasha shared a close relationship with her younger brother Ruben and loved to hear his voice when he entered a room.

Natalie praised her son for being so understanding over the years, with special emphasis over the last few weeks when Natasha took ill.

Natasha also had a close bond with Natalie’s partner Chris, with the love between the pair described as ‘immeasurable’.

Speaking to her daughter, Natalie said: “I miss you millions princess. Life is never going to be the same without you but I know someday we will reunite again. We will be able to get that bond back, the bond we have will never be broken and it will be there when we reunite with each other.”

Natalie gave special thanks to all those in the community who had helped support Natasha’s fundraising drives over the years and those involved in her home care.

She also thanked the staff at Forestlodge for providing Natasha’s holidays, The Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children for their ‘outstanding’ support and care and the Children’s Hospice for helping her family over the years and in Natasha’s final days.

“Our girl was a happy girl, content and always smiling, so we want everyone to hold onto these precious memories and remember all the good times we have been blessed with,” Natalie said.

Natasha’s family have asked that in lieu of flowers, donations are made to the NI Children’s Hospice.