Community rallies round to help devastated South Shields family reeling from double death blow

Neighbour Wendy Kassim has been collecting toys and gifts for the family.
Neighbour Wendy Kassim has been collecting toys and gifts for the family.

A devastated family have said a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the people of South Tyneside who have rallied to help them through a double tragedy.

Relatives of Melissa Liddle – killed by her partner on Mother’s Day – and her brother, Liam Bush – who died two weeks ago, having been unable to come to terms with his grief – have been the focus of a major community support effort.

Melissa Liddle and her brother Liam.

Melissa Liddle and her brother Liam.

Liam’s funeral has been paid for by Jarrow-based support group Community Corner, a neighbour has been inundated with Christmas presents for the family, including Melissa’s two children, and an internet fundraiser has raised £1,141, which will be used to send the family on a break in the New Year.

Melissa and Liam’s stepdad, David Keighley, said: “We can’t put into words how grateful we are to the people of South Tyneside. They have really helped us a lot. It has been really hard for us. Even putting the Christmas trees up for the kids has been such a hard task.”

The lives of Mr Keighley and his wife Tracey fell apart when Melissa, 23, was killed by her partner Anthony Ross at the home they shared in Oak Avenue, South Shields.

Their grief was compounded by the death of 21-year-old Liam last month. The family say he never got over being the one who found his sister’s body.

You can’t put into words just how much the generosity of the people of South Tyneside has helped to make things a little easier for us.

David Keighley

With a second funeral to plan and Christmas just around the corner, family friend and neighbour Wendy Kassim launched an appeal to take some of the pressure off the family.

Ms Kassim, a community champion at Morrison’s, in South Shields, said: “You can’t begin to imagine the emotional turmoil the family have had to go through. It is just heartbreaking.

“They have had Melissa taken away from them, the ongoing court case and now Liam. You just can’t explain how devastated they are.

“When I launched an appeal for help I never imagined the response I would get. You just can’t put into words just what an amazing community we have here in South Tyneside. “

Melissa and Liam's mum Tracey Keighley and her husband David.

Melissa and Liam's mum Tracey Keighley and her husband David.

Cheryl McDonald, who runs Community Corner – which raises funds for good causes in South Tyneside through the sale of donated items – along with her mum Lynne Davis, said: “You can’t even begin to imagine what the family are going through, and with Christmas around the corner.

“They are such a lovely family and we are just so glad we have been able to take some of the burden off them by covering the cost of the funeral.

“We’d also like to thank the people of South Tyneside. Without their generosity and help we wouldn’t have been in the position to be able to help.”