The family of the seven-year-old girl murdered in York last week have spoken of the “generosity and love” they have received, as a fundraising page set-up to support them surpassed £23,000 on what would have been her eighth birthday.
Katie Rough was found with severe lacerations to her neck and chest last Monday in the Woodthorpe area of York - less than a mile from the family home - and later died in hospital. A 15-year-old girl has appeared in court charged with murdering her and possessing an offensive weapon.
In the last 14 hours three separate, anonymous bidders, have each donated £500 to help Katie’s family. As of Monday morning, £23,785 had been raised - £1,215 short of the £25,000 goal.
Monday marks Katie’s eighth birthday and her parents, Alison and Paul Rough, have invited members of the York community to join them in releasing balloons in their daughter’s honour. People are to meet at Westfield Park in York, alongside Westfield Primary School, where Katie was a pupil, at 3:30pm.
In a statement the couple said: “On Monday 16th January, Katie Rough’s family and friends would like to invite the community to remember Katie’s 8th birthday.
“Katie was a beautiful, creative and special little girl who will be extremely missed by all who knew her.
“We will be releasing balloons to celebrate her life. Katie’s parents, Paul and Alison Rough, would like to thank everyone for their kind words and ongoing support through this very difficult and sad time.”
Those attending the event will need to donate £1 per balloon and will be able to write a message before releasing it.
Writing on the gofundme page, Laura Dabbit Young thanked donors for their support saying she was in “total shock” over how much money had been raised: “I can’t believe how much you guys have managed to raise for my family! I’m in total shock this morning but this really is amazing! My family is so, so grateful, thank you all so much for the love and generosity you’re showing.”
Katie’s grandmother, June Horner Ferguson, also thanked donors and described the murder as a “horrendous time” for her family.
She wrote: “Thank you everyone for your generosity to my family at this time.
“This money will enable my daughter and son-in-law the space to grieve for Katie with out having to worry about paying household bills while they cannot work. I still cannot believe the generosity and love shown to my family at this horrendous time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart everyone.”
Kieran Hudson added: “Just want to say on behalf of me and my family it (is) hugely appreciated and we can not thank all enough for being so kind and supporting towards up (sic)! And a huge thank you to Maggie Jackson for starting this amazing idea.”
Jackson, a York resident who does not personally know the Rough family, launched the fundraising page saying that Katie’s “awful death” had “shaken our community” and had “really saddened me”.
“I can’t stop thinking about what her mum and family will be going through. I don’t know if it’s too early to say this but I’d like to raise money to give to her family to help them through this terrible time without any other worries.
“If anybody fancies helping or has any ideas without been insensitive please email me. No mother should be going through what Katie’s mum is having to deal with... breaks my heart,” Jackson wrote on the gofundme page.
She added that the money being raised would be “handed over to the family to use to spend on whatever they need, from the costs of Katie’s funeral to helping them pay for bills etc until they are ready to restore as normal a life as they can”.
When the £20,000 mark was surpassed Jackson said she had spoken to Rough’s family about possibly using some of the funds to set up “something for Katie to be remembered for”.
“As I have previously stated how the money is spent is up to the family. I have spoken to them about the possibility of some going to set up something for Katie to be remembered for as the funds are growing so quickly and much more than ever imagined. As we never knew how much you guys would donate and raise we couldn’t ever put a figure on what will go where and how it will help, and as you can imagine right now isn’t the time to talk to Katie’s family about that. I think it will be more a case of deciding that when her family are ready. Can I ask for your continued respect and patience in this manner as I’m getting lots of messages asking about how it will be spent, I can assure you that the money will make a difference to Katie’s family. Thank you kindly for your understanding and continued support xxx”
On Friday, Jackson wrote that there was a “lot of negativity floating around which is awful”, but said it wasn’t stopping people’s “motivation and generous hearts”.
She added: “Unfortunately and obviously no amount of money can change this, it can’t bring that little girl back to her family, but it will help ease their worries. A lot of good will come from this and will shine a little light in such a dark time.”
The teenager charged over Rough’s murder appeared via a video link at Leeds Crown Court on Friday and was remanded in youth detention. She is due to appear for a pre-trial hearing at Leeds Crown Court on 16 February.