THE mother of Dorset teenager Gaia Pope-Sutherland, who went missing a year ago today, has told family members that when she goes to bed at night she feels guilty for feeling warm, because her daughter died of hypothermia.

It’s just one of the tragic ways in which the 19-year- old’s death has impacted her friends and family over the past 12 months, as they enter the 11-day run up to the anniversary of the discovery of Gaia’s body, near Dancing Ledge later this month.

“We all have survivor’s guilt,” said her cousin, Marienna Pope-Weidemann.

She has lead the Justice For Gaia campaign which presses for a wide-ranging investigation and inquest into the causes and lead up to Gaia’s death, including police handling of an alleged sexual assault on Gaia in 2015. “It’s my way of not shattering into a thousand pieces,” said Marienna.

She praised her cousin as ‘very smart and clued in’. “Gaia was one of the most empathetic people I have ever known; she felt other people’s pain as though it were her own,” she said. “She was very sensitive and brave for others; most of the scraps she got into at school were when she saw someone being bullied.

“She always stuck up for others and that’s why we are sticking up for her now.”

She said the family felt ‘fierce’ and that they had had to fight.

“Not just through legal stuff now but when she was missing, it felt we were constantly fighting to be heard, fighting for what had happened to her to be taken seriously,” said Marienna.

“I called it our lioness side.”

She said that along with campaigning for justice, Gaia’s website also tried to open up a place where people with mental health issues could have a conversation and one of those ways was through the Art For Gaia project.

“Art was one of the things which helped her,” she said, adding that the family encouraged anyone who had been touched by Gaia’s story, or who had joined the public searches for her, to join the Art For Gaia initiative to create a piece of art or craft inspired by her.

“Everything we say, we think of how she would want to be spoken about,” said Marienna. “We think about her values and the positive change she wanted to see in the world.”

Natasha Pope, Gaia’s mother, said: “This year has been more painful than words can say. Sometimes I can’t believe I have survived it, but with my every breath I love and demand justice for my daughter. Change is coming.”

Marienna praised the community for its support but said the family would not be holding any public commemoration, preferring to gather privately on the weekend of November 17-18.

However, they have asked for people who knew anything about the alleged sexual assault on Gaia to come forward. “And if you know anything that might aid the investigation into Gaia’s missing persons investigation and help us learn the truth, please come forward; not just for Gaia’s sake, but for the sake of anyone else who might be at risk,” said Marienna.