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Friends and family pay moving tributes to Inverness teenager Zoë Jane Sutton

By Ian Duncan

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Zoë Jane Sutton on her first day at St Clement's School in Dingwall.
Zoë Jane Sutton on her first day at St Clement's School in Dingwall.

SHE many have had severe disabilities, but brave teenager Zoë Jane Sutton did not let them hold her back and was determined to live life to the full.

The 13-year-old’s funeral was held in Inverness earlier this month, and this week her family spoke publicly for the first time about the impact she had on their lives.

When Zoë’s mum Heather was just 24 weeks pregnant, she was involved in a head-on collision which affected her unborn baby.

As a result, Zoë developed global cerebral palsy, was blind and also had epilepsy.

She could not talk but managed to communicate by using signals or sounds and was fitted with a feeding tube when she was a toddler after suffering severe gastric reflux.

However, despite all of these challenges, her parents said she just accepted her disabilities and led as normal a life as possible.

She attended St Clements School in Dingwall where she enjoyed swimming and was very popular with a wide circle of friends.

Zoë Jane Sutton with her dad Gerry.
Zoë Jane Sutton with her dad Gerry.

“Anyone who was in her company, no matter what their mood, went away uplifted,” Mrs Sutton, a former midwife, said.

“I’ve always called her a social butterfly and she has just flown off to another patch of flowers.”

Her father, Gerry, said Zoë was always smiling and added: “As soon as someone came in the room she was happy to see them. We just loved her to bits and that was reciprocated tenfold. We just loved spending time with her.”

Earlier this year she attended the Belladrum music festival where her personal highlight was seeing Lewis Capaldi perform.

She was also an active member of 2nd Inverness Kingsmills Scout troop, gaining 20 badges including a number of challenge awards.

In August she enjoyed being a princess for the day – which was made possible by Make A Wish – where she enjoyed a limo ride, a pony ride and afternoon tea at Culloden House Hotel.

Zoë Jane Sutton, her mother Heather, father Gerry and sister Natasha at Disneyland in Florida.
Zoë Jane Sutton, her mother Heather, father Gerry and sister Natasha at Disneyland in Florida.

Throughout her life she was cared for at home by a team of up to 14 carers but, when her condition deteriorated, she was admitted to Rachel House, in Kinross, run by Children’s Hospices Across Scotland, where she passed away peacefully on October 23.

Her 15-year-old sister Natasha said: “Her smile would light up a room. She was just amazing – I couldn’t have asked for a better sister.

“She wasn’t really like a sister, she was like a best friend.”

Her aunt Karen Thompson added: “She touched everyone that she came into contact with and she was a good teacher – she would show people how to be a better person.”

Toni Macartney, head teacher at St Clement’s School, said: “Zoë was so well loved by both staff and pupils. She had film star status. We had watched her develop from a lovely little girl into a fun-loving and sociable young teenager who knew her own mind.”

She said that a school report had stated “Zoë’s presence lights up the classroom with her beaming smile and it is a delight to have her in class,” and added: “In actual fact, she lit up the whole school, not just her class.”

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