Tributes paid to Derry’s ‘Queen Bee’ Rhiannon Bates

Alan pictured with Rhiannon.

Alan pictured with Rhiannon.

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Moving tributes have been paid to a brave Derry teenager who passed away on Wednesday.

Moving tributes have been paid to a brave Derry teenager who passed away on Wednesday.

Mum Shauna with Rhiannon at her 'Sweeth 13th' prom.

Mum Shauna with Rhiannon at her 'Sweeth 13th' prom.

Rhiannon Bates, the only daughter of Alan and Shauna Bates had astounded medics with her sheer determination and bravery.

Medics said Rhiannon would never see seven, but she recently turned 13, an event her family celebrated with with a special birthday prom at her school at Foyleview.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when dad, Alan, took Rhiannon to the floor for a dance with their special song ‘Butterfly Kisses.’

The Derry girl, known affectionately as ‘Queen Bee’ who had an atypical form of Late Infantile Batten’s Disease had a unique and touching way of communicating with her parents - rolling her eyes to the ceiling and back to the floor.

“I love you all the way up to the sky and right back down again,” she would tell them each time she did it.

Speaking in a recent interview Alan Bates said: “Rhiannon has taught us so much and given us so much strength that we rarely see her disabilities anymore, all we can see is the truly amazing and special gift that God has seen fit to bless us with. We don’t know how long we have left but we live the most of each and every day; mum and I are stronger and closer now than most couples. Our love has truly grown, we know that when Rhiannon’s time comes we will have no regrets, she has lived more in her life than most people 2 or even 3 times her age.

“She has taught us to be thankful for the slightest things, to praise the smallest achievements for the successes that they truly are, with Rhiannon as our teacher we take nothing for granted but see every little thing for the miracle that it truly is. As I lift her on to my lap before taking her to bed I am filled with an enormous sense of contentment knowing that the one place where I can guarantee that she will go to sleep is in my arms, so few dads get to do what I have done and for that I have an amazing daughter and beautiful wife to thank.

“Life is good no matter what happens – it’s how you live it that counts.”

Rhiannon’s parents Shauna and Alan have fought a long campaign to raise awareness of Batten’s through the ‘Bee for Battens’ charity and they sit on the board of trustees with founders, Tony and Mary Heffernan.

Tony said last night on social media: “Our Queen Bee Rhiannon Bates has today grown her Angel Wings after a long battle with Batten Disease. RIP. We are exceptionally sad to say goodbye to this angel and think of her of her parents Alan and Shauna at this very, very sad time.”

Today tributes have flooded in on facebook. One simply said: “Sending you hugs and prayers, I’m so sorry. A beautiful lil girl, God couldn’t have placed her with better parents. Love ya.”

Michael Dobbins, principal of Foyleview School said: “Rhiannon was an example to us all, she was deeply loved by her friends and school community and we will celebrate the gift of her life. We are all the better for having known her, our thoughts are with her parents Shauna and Alan.”