THE heartbroken family of Paige Doherty has said they are only just beginning to realise the hole left in their family by their beloved daughter’s death as the one-year anniversary approaches.
In an exclusive interview with the Post at her home, mum Pamela Munro said the schoolgirl would always volunteer to help out with her younger siblings – Andrew, 11, Peyton, five, and Lucas, one – and make sure her mum took care of herself.
It’s just one of the things Pamela misses about her 15-year-old daughter as the first anniversary of her death, March 19, creeps closers.
She said: “She was like that her whole life – she was always doing stuff a woman would do.
“You would come in and she would be mopping the floor or she would have a candle lit bath ran for you.
“She was a great big sister. I remember her telling her teacher ‘Andrew jnr wears a size four nappy’ and her teacher saying ‘how do you know that Paige?’.”
She added: “Andrew snr has said ‘you don’t actually realise how much she did for us. How much she helped us’.
“I used to say if anything ever happened to me and Andrew my kids would be fine because she would take them.
“She was everything you would ask for in a daughter.”
Even as a child she would offer to help her mum make a bottle or bathe her younger siblings and that caring nature stayed with her throughout her life.
In fact, just days before she died, Paige requested a blue jacket be put in hold in a Glasgow New Look store in order to pick it up for her mum after she was paid on Saturday, the day of her death.
Pamela didn’t find out about her daughter’s latest good deed until months after Paige was gone. By then the jacket was already sold but it reminded her of just how much Paige thought of others.
The 33-year-old said: “That’s just the kind of thing she did.
“She would always want to pay. She would buy everybody something with her wages.”
Pamela gave birth to her eldest daughter just one week before her 17th birthday on April 17, 2000. She was helped to adapt to motherhood by her own parents, whom she lived with for the first year of Paige’s life.
The tot weighed a tiny 6lbs 5oz and underwent numerous tests to determine the cause for her size, but she was just “small made” says mum Pamela.
As she grew up, her size didn’t hold her back and it was her maturity and kindness that stood out to those who knew her.
Pamela said: “Everybody would say she’s been here before. She was walking before a year, she would have a full blown conversation with you. “She was all there and a wee bit more.
“I think it was because I was so young the two of us kind of grew up together.”
And the pair grew to become best friends with very similar personalities except, Pamela admits, for the independent youngster’s aspirations.
Paige “had her head screwed on” and wasn’t planning on becoming a young mum like Pamela. Instead, she had her sights set on what every teenager is after – multiple holidays, clothes and, of course, a Range Rover for her 17th birthday.
Those aspirations coupled with her personality spurred her lifelong goal of becoming a doctor, which she hoped to achieve after completing her national five qualifications and attending college to sit her highers.
The clever teen even had a back-up career lined up in hairdressing and she worked in a salon part time.
Pamela said: “Most people her age don’t want to go out and work – I wouldn’t have expected that from her but she wanted to.
“She never did anything that would disappoint you.
“It’s hard to say that because everybody’s got their bad points but it’s hard to find something bad about Paige.”
Paige moved to Clydebank from Bishopbriggs when she was nine-years-old, but it was when she moved to the family’s current Whitecrook home – where dad Andrew grew up – that she finally felt at home.
It was in that home Pamela last saw her daughter alive as she rushed out the door to spend the Friday evening with her best friend.
Paige had spent the night of Friday, March 18, begging her mum for a loan of £5 to get to work the next day, while Pamela was adamant she needed to learn to manage her money.
But the schoolgirl, as always, wore her down and she was soon sent round to the shops to get change of a £20 note which, Pamela joked, she knew she would spend if she gave her it all.
The teen returned around 10.15pm thanked her mum for the money and said “see you tomorrow”.
The next day Pamela woke up early to take her youngest daughter to dance class and as the day went on she wondered why she hadn’t heard from Paige, who always checked in with her, but keen to give her more independence she resisted the urge to contact her.
By 6.30pm on Saturday, March 19 she was growing more and more concerned about her daughter.
But she put it down to Paige having a busy day and perhaps left late from her work at Street Image hairdressing, in Kirkintilloch.
Then the phone rang.
Paige’s friend, whom she had slept over with the previous night, called to say she hadn’t heard from her, which she said was unusual for the duo who were usually in constant contact.
Then Paige’s boyfriend, whom Pamela hadn’t met yet, phoned to say he had spoken with Paige’s boss who told him she hadn’t made it to work that morning.
In that moment, Pamela said, she knew something had to happened to her beloved little girl.
Frantic Pamela immediately called her husband Andrew who rushed home and they began a search around Glasgow.
The following day, Pamela’s hunt for her daughter took her to the now infamous Delicious Deli where she asked a staff member to call John Leathem and ask if he had seen the teenager.
She heard the 32-year-old confirm he had seen her that day – she bought a roll and sausage, told him she was heading to work and he said goodbye.
The worried mum brushed it off but her fear grew as she scoured Whitecrook, heartbreakingly walking by Leathem’s Brown Avenue home, where her daughter’s body had been concealed, throughout her search.
On Monday, March 21, Pamela and her family woke to begin another day of searching but that afternoon, as she was giving a statement to police, a body was discovered.
After an agonising 24-hour wait, Pamela and Andrew were faced with every parent’s worst nightmare as they travelled to the mortuary to identify their daughter.
She said: “She looked like a baby and I said ‘yeah, that’s her’.
“We all knew it was her. We just needed it confirmed.”
But Pamela chooses not to dwell on the sadness, instead viewing that evening as one of many happy memories with her precious daughter and taking comfort in the fact that no one can hurt her anymore. Although it’s harder for the children to view it that way. While younger sister Peyton thinks of her as an angel, Andrew struggles with the loss of his big sister, missing all they would do together.
Pamela said: “Andrew has bad days. He feels it, he feels it more than anybody.
“She did so much with him, taking him to the pictures, to the park.
“He doesn’t get to do a lot because he has additional needs but she had the patience of a saint with him.”
Since the teen’s tragic death, Pamela has vowed to focus on what she feels Paige would want her to focus on – seeking justice and finding the positive in a heartbreaking situation.
With that in mind, the family are in the process of setting up Paige’s Promise, a charity which will teach youngsters self defence and offer grief counselling for those who’ve lost loved ones in traumatic circumstances.
It already runs a popular class in Whitecrook’s Centre 81 and has recently opened up in Pamela’s hometown of Bishopbriggs.
But the main focus of the Munro’s today is Paige’s Law – a campaign to impose tougher sentences and more room for victim’s rights in the legal system – after their daughter’s killer was granted his appeal for a reduced sentence.
It’s a long road ahead but, for Paige, Pamela will fight on.
Pamela hopes others will remember Paige the way the teen would want people to remember her.
Pamela said: “She would be saying to everybody ‘don’t dwell on this, don’t be sitting sad and being upset, don’t put off your life’.
“She’d say ‘just forget about the person that did this, make more time for family and don’t argue as much – life is far too short.’”