Hundreds of heart-shaped lanterns were released above Otley on New Year’s Eve in memory of local girl Erin Field.

Erin had been battling the sudden onset of a rare lung condition, pulmonary veno-occlusive disease (PVOD), when she died in December, aged 14 months.

Her parents, Arthington couple Robert and Sarah, and other family members honoured her memory by setting off Chinese lanterns from Surprise View, on top of Otley Chevin, on the final day of 2013. They were supported by friends and well-wishers who released lanterns from other parts of the town, in Arthington, and across Wharfedale and Aireborough.

Relatives in Stranraer, Scotland, also lit lanterns on Hogmanay for Erin while others were released overseas.

Erin’s aunt, Catherine Greenwood, said the gesture of support deeply moved Erin’s parents. Posting on Facebook, she said: “Thank you to everyone who showed their support for Erin and all the little angels gone too soon.

“Lanterns were sent sailing into the sky in Arthington, Otley, Burley-in-Wharfedale, Yeadon and Stranraer.

“On behalf of Erin’s family I would like to wish you all a happy and healthy 2014.”

Otley-based fundraiser for Bliss and other charities, Mel Metcalfe, had organised the mass lantern release for the family. “I was overwhelmed at the community’s response,” she said.

“I originally had 100 lanterns to give away and in the end had to buy another 200 lanterns and some people bought their own, so more than 300 went into the sky for Erin and her family. It’s lovely how the community all came together to show their love and support for Erin’s family at such a sad time. Lanterns even went into the sky in New Zealand, Canada and down south for her.”

In Otley, lanterns could be seen heading skywards, joining those above the Chevin, from Garnett’s Field, Grove Hill Park and The Green at Weston.

Erin’s plight touched hearts across the world and the fundraising appeal launched by her family, in an urgent bid to fund possible treatment, raised more than £4,000. The money will be donated to The Sick Children’s Trust and the British Lung Foundation, and in support of research into PVOD.

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