THE DISTRAUGHT parents of a schoolgirl killed in a car crash on the way to her grandmother's funeral are preparing for their first Christmas without their daughter.
Beata Bajorek, a year 10 pupil at Mount Carmel High School, was travelling with her mum and dad and younger sister when tragedy struck on Thursday, October 8 this year.
The 15-year-old's family survived the crash close to the German border but soon had to say their last goodbyes to both Beata and her grandmother at funerals held in Poland.
Paying tribute to their beloved daughter Beata's parents Artur and Alina, of Ormerod Street, said: "We would like to express our gratitude to everybody for their prayers, condolences and tributes during this sad time. Beata will always be remembered as a young active community member and a true ambassador of Polish culture and tradition."
Following her death more than 200 people attended a special memorial mass service at St Joseph's RC Church - where she and younger sister Adrianna had previously received the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Half the service was in Polish and half in English as a Polish priest joined Father Martin Saunders, to oversee proceedings.
More than 200 people also showed at a Requiem Holy Mass in Poland - held on October 17, 2009, to pay their respects.
Father Martin Saunders, of St Joseph's, said: "She was young and had everything to live for. She intended to travel the world and sincerely believed she could change it for the better."
After the Bajorek family settled in Hyndburn at the beginning of 2008 Beata soon became a popular figure at school and in the community.
She had a close circle of friends, both Polish and English, who described her as kind, helpful, funny and happy. And along with Adrianna, 12, was one of 30 Polish pupils who attended Mount Carmel High School.
Her teachers said Beata enjoyed sport, particularly basketball and volleyball, and loved Hip Hop music - especially the Polish singer Peja.
In October Mount Carmel headteacher Katrina Ryan told how a heartbroken Adrianna rang the school from a hospital shortly after the tragic accident.
Bernadette Droze, from Parasol Accrington, a voluntary support group offering help to Polish and other migrants in Hyndburn and East Lancashire, said: "It is going to be very hard for the Bajorek's facing Christmas this year. I think it will be very difficult for everyone in the Polish school too as Beata was an ambassador of Polish culture."
Beata's mum Alina, a voluntary teacher at the Polish Saturday School, said: "Beata was a conscientious student and she expressed an interest in a future teaching career and enjoyed assisting staff at the Polish School. May she rest in peace."
n The family also thanked the Accrington Polish Saturday School, Parasol Accrington, and Mount Carmel School for their support and contribution following the death of Beata.