CHILDREN from St Joseph's RC Primary School spent a day with animals to mark the birthday of a former pupil who died of a brain tumour.
Alison Phelan was just seven years old when her parents, Julie and Gary, were told she was suffering from an untreatable form of cancer.
In the following months, Alison made countless visits to the hospital, had six weeks of radiotherapy and was even taken to the Catholic shrine at Lourdes in the hope of a miracle.
In the early hours of June 7, 2001, three weeks before her eighth birthday, Alison died. She would have been 15 years old yesterday (Wednesday).
Now each year staff and pupils from her primary school in Dobbin Close, Kenton, dedicate a day close to June 25 to the memory of Alison.
On Tuesday the organisation Philzoofari brought in animals including snakes, lizards, skunks and tarantulas to entertain the children.
Pupils and teachers enjoyed dressing up in their favourite animal costumes and headteache,r Phillip Sutton, even wrapped a 12ft python around his neck.
Mrs Phelan works at the school. She said the commemoration day makes it easier for her to cope.
She said: "Every year for Alison's birthday St Joseph's School is a great support to our family. The school is overtaken by a fun day and the staff and children enter into events wholeheartedly.
"Mr Sutton and Mrs French, who were great friends of Alison, help to make our day special, as do the staff who knew her and the new ones who have joined since.
"We would like to thank everyone who has been involved."
Since Alison's death, her family has set up Ali's Dream, a charity that funds research into childhood brain tumours. To date it has raised around £600,000.
Pupil, Rhiannon Browne, 10, said: "The day is always a fun way to remember Ali's birthday and raise money for Ali's Dream.
"We want to try and help children with brain tumours have a better life."
Mr Sutton, said: "Alison is always very close to our hearts. I was fortunate to know Alison.
"To say that her memory lives on is an understatement. Everybody in the school community wants to raise awareness about brain tumours and to raise funds for Ali's Dream."
* For more information, or to donate money to Ali's Dream, visit www. alisdream.f2s.com or call 020 8863 6068.