West Lane: Families of Nadia Sharif, Emily Moore and Christie Harnett mark 'heavenly' 21st birthdays
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The families of three teenage girls who took their own lives in hospitals run by a North East mental health trust are marking what would have been their daughters 21st birthdays this month.
Christie Harnett from Newton Aycliffe, Nadia Sharif from Middlesbrough and Emily Moore from Shildon were born within days of each other in February 2002.
They were all patients at West Lane mental health hospital in Middlesbrough in 2019.
Christie and Nadia took their own lives within weeks of each other at West Lane in the summer of that year.
Emily died a week after her 18th birthday at Lanchester Road Hospital in Durham in February 2020.
Both hospitals were run by the Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust.
In November 2022 an investigation into the girls' deaths found there had been a catalogue of failures in their care and their families renewed calls for a public inquiry into how the trust is run.
'We remember the outgoing girl'
Nadia Sharif would have been the first of the girls to turn 21 on 1 February.
Her sister Anem, who was 14 when she died in 2019, told ITV Tyne Tees that life is not the same since her death.
She said: “We just remember the outgoing girl, not the one that was in the hospital. We remember her as the one that we grew up with and the one that we shared a lot of childhood memories with.
"Everyone says we look alike. She used to like doing makeup and she would do my makeup. In the backroom she would dance and just enjoy herself really.
"When I hear a song we used to listen to that hits hard."
Anem was by her sister's bedside when she died in August 2019.
She said: "My uncle picked me up and was saying that she's in hospital, said she might not make it. When I heard that I was just thinking 'she'll pull through, she's strong.'
"She went to hospital on the Monday. On the Tuesday night, at about three in the morning, we got a call saying we have to say our goodbye. They didn’t turn her lift support off until the Friday. I was holding her hand. The final touch.”
Nadia wanted to be an accountant or a teacher. Anem is now studying for a career in mental health and said she is doing it in memory of her sister.
She said: “It shouldn't have inspired me, but it has inspired me because there's so many people being failed out there. I think Nadia would be happy with it, she would be proud.”
'She should be here'
Emily Moore, from Shildon, County Durham, would have been 21 on 4 February.
Her parents David and Susan have invited friends to send cards as they did not want it to just be theirs on the mantlepiece.
They say Emily loved parties when she was younger.
Mr Moore said: "It’s a special day and it brings it back to you that we can’t celebrate it with her.”
Mrs Moore told ITV Tyne Tees she wonders what Emily's life could have been. She said: "She was very clever and wanted to go to university. She actually wanted to be a nurse, a mental health nurse. She would have been a very good nurse."
The couple keep in touch with Emily’s friends who are now at college, have jobs and have also recently celebrated their 21st birthdays.
Caitlin Stanley, who was at nursery and primary school with Emily, said: "I think every milestone I hit in my life - turning 18, then 21, learning to drive and going off to uni - and her not being able to do that, that affects me because I feel like she should be here.
"We always planned to have a little girl's holiday and go to Tenerife. It's a massive hole that just can't be filled."
Eve Bainbridge also went to school with Emily and says she and Caitlin will go for a drink to remember their friend.
She said: “We’ll have a little toast to Emily and will try to put as much positivity into it as possible. Remember the good times because I know she wouldn't want us crying on her birthday.“
She added: "It's very difficult. I just know that no matter what I do, I can't tell her. She was always the best to talk to and I just know that I'll never have that again."
Christie Harnett was the first teenager to die at West Lane in June 2019. Christie, who loved singing and photography, would have been 21 on 13 February.
Her step dad Michael said: "It's tough because being her 21st she'd have really wanted to have done something to celebrate it. We will go and have a drink for her, but it's still not going to be the same without her.”
Her elder sister Ellis Brayley said: "It’s hard day-by-day. It could be the stupidest thing like putting a perfume on that was one of her favourite and that can set you off. It is hard."
Ayron Braley, Christie’s younger brother said: "We reflect on the happy memories and the sad ones. It’s all we've got now. For me, it's a daily reflection, like daily tasks. It's just there. It's in the back of your mind."
Her grandmother Casey Tremain said she expects there would have been a party and lots of shopping on her 21st.
She said: "I just think what would she have been doing with her life, with her career.
"She probably would have still been singing. She was really good at singing and she had recorded some songs."
She added: "It’s really hard because you just think she's just going to be forever 17."
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