A MEMORIAL garden for teenager Jade Clark was opened at Ringwood fire station on Sunday afternoon, on what would have been the youngster's 17th birthday.

It was an emotional occasion for everyone assembled at the station, where Jade was a member of the Young Firefighters Association, before she died in a fatal collision on the A31 in February.

Members of Jade's family including mum Sharon Clark, stepfather Daniel Clark, grandmother Linda Pidgley, dad Billy Herald and Jade's siblings gathered for the ceremony, led by Ringwood's watch manager, Kevin Morrison.

Cadets from Ringwood Young Firefighters Association, who have worked tirelessly to prepare the garden, were also present and took part in a drill beforehand.

The official opening was conducted by Spencer McCarthy from Churchill Retirement Living, the firm who put up a reward for information during a police appeal following Jade's death.

The firm also contributed to the garden along with Stewarts Garden Lands in Christchurch who helped supply the plants and a water feature.

After the garden was opened, Jade's family released 17 doves in memory of their beloved daughter, granddaughter and sister, watched by tearful loved ones and friends.

Mr Morrison, who is group leader for the Ringwood YFA said: “The garden was an idea of the cadets themselves following Jade's death.

“We have had help from Stewarts, who provided a designer who gave us some ideas as to what we could do with the space.

“It's for the cadets and for the family and is part of the grieving process for everyone here.

“It has been tough - she had been coming here for four years. The cadets are a big part of the station - part of the personnel.

“This is something we have never been through before and I hope never to have to go through again.

“Dealing with Jade's death both personally and as a station has been the hardest thing I have ever done in 34years of being here.

“The community has been absolutely astounding to the family and to us and I thank them all for their support.

"Jade used to have me in stitches. She was such a bubbly character.”