A grieving mother’s campaign to raise awareness of the condition that killed her teenage daughter is going around the world thanks to a colourful new project.
Diane Roberts has worked tirelessly to make people more aware of sepsis and toxic shock syndrome (TSS) in memory of her 13-year-old daughter Jemma-Louise, who died in March 2014.
Now she has launched Jemma-Louise Rocks, an initiative which sees stones painted and hidden for people to find, both in the borough and around the world.
They include details of a Facebook page, where people can share the locations of the rocks and, more importantly, learn about sepsis and TSS.
Mrs Roberts, who lives in Whelley, got the idea after a friend asked her to paint a rock in memory of a girl for a similar project.
She said: “At first I didn’t really buy into the idea. It was only when I really looked into it I thought it could work, but not as a memory page, more for awareness.”
Mrs Roberts started the initiative by painting a pebble she had kept from a holiday in Wales with her children when they were young.
She said: “I had kept them in a bucket and thought one day I would do something with them.
“When I got the bucket out and looked, Jemma had drawn a picture on one of them. I have kept that one.
“It’s like it’s meant to be. I think she would love it.”
Within two weeks of her setting up a Facebook page, more than 600 people had joined, suggesting the idea was popular.
Many have been busy painting rocks, with people of all abilities urged to get involved.
Mrs Roberts said: “There are some really professional people out there who are painting rocks and they are amazing.
“But it’s not about what’s on them, it’s the message.”
Pupils at Canon Sharples and St David’s primary schools, which Jemma-Louise attended, have been painting, with teachers also asking for child-friendly information about sepsis to educate the youngsters.
Once completed, the rocks are hidden in all sorts of places for people to find, both locally and further afield.
“Quite a few people have taken them on holiday,” Mrs Roberts said.
“We have had one found in Turkey. There have been quite a few in this country that have been found and rehidden.”
Wigan’s mayor Coun Stephen Dawber has plans to take a rock to twin town Angers in September.
The project is growing quickly, with people invited to paint rocks at Chapter One Tea Room on Saturday, as part of Hindley summer gala.
There are even plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign to help cover the costs of buying the rocks and paint, with two people already pledging to give £100.
To find out more about the project, search for Jemma-Louise Rocks #jemmarocks on Facebook.