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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Hollie Bone

Mum of murdered Olivia prepares for emotional day celebrating 10th birthday without her

Olivia Pratt-Korbel’s mum has pleaded for help to ensure her little girl’s name is never forgotten as she prepares to celebrate her 10th birthday without her.

For Cheryl Korbel, 47, Tuesday June 13 should be spent watching her daughter excitedly ripping open her presents surrounded by their family.

But after her daughter’s life was stolen away in a tragic shooting which shocked the nation, Cheryl is determined that Liv be remembered for the beautiful, bright light she was.

In an effort to immortalise that memory in their community and across the world, the grieving mum has today called for help to build a memorial park in her name.

Speaking to the Mirror about the project, Cheryl said: “Liv will never be forgotten but this garden is about keeping her memory alive. When people see her name we want them to remember our beautiful and sassy, Liv.

Little Olivia was brutally murdered in her own home (PA)

“On her 9th birthday I decorated the living room because she wanted a party. I got balloons and a big light up number 9. Every birthday was a big deal, she always wanted a party, she always loved being the centre of attention."

Fighting back tears, she added: “I’d have probably gone and done the same for her 10th birthday because as much as each birthday was important and she wanted to celebrate, this year she was getting to double digits.”

The family will celebrate Liv’s life at a private party, but will also decorate a tree on the patch of land they hope to transform into Olivia’s memorial garden in Dovecot, Liverpool.

Just 10 doors up is the house they used to call home - where the nine-year-old was killed by a bullet intended for a convicted drug dealer.

Also on the site is a near-derelict Dovecot labour club, where the CCTV cameras helped to catch Olivia's killer with vital video evidence.

Cheryl will mark the birthday at a private party (Julian Hamilton/Sunday Mirror)

Now Cheryl wants the project to turn it into a community centre to get youngsters off the streets and away from the criminal gangs in the area.

A band of residents including Cheryl, and Olivia’s aunts Kerrieann and Kim, have formed the Kingsheath and District Veterans Association (KADVA) a community to bring their dream for Olivia's park to fruition.

But they estimate it will cost in the region of £300,000 to renovate the dilapidated club and build Olivia’s park.

Labour MP, Ian Byrne, who sits on the KADVA board, believes the project in Olivia’s name could help the community break free from the plague of crime.

He said: “This area is on its knees there is nothing there everything has been destroyed over the last 12 years by cuts and pulling things out

“This is putting something back, it’s something for the people but it means far more than that.

“The people built this club with their own hands, but it's falling down and needs so much work. They want to do it up and make sure it has facilities like a youth club so there is something for the people of this area again.

“It’s a beautiful project, it’s completely from the community, the builders are chomping at the bit to get it moving but we just need the funds.

“It’s about five minutes from Olivia’s old house, it’s a plot of glass but it’s just wasteland.

“They have a vision to turn it into something really special. With what happened to Olivia they were dealt a grievous blow but to take such a tragedy and turn it into a positive is a beautiful thing.”

Speaking of the plans, Cheryl said: “I know that she would be made up with it, and if it wasn't because of this but was something else she would have loved it.”

Olivia was killed by high profile Liverpool drug dealer Thomas Cashman, 34, as he embarked on a relentless pursuit to kill Joseph Nee, 36.

Cheryl and her two other children, Ryan, 23, and Chloe, 19, had to leave their home and move elsewhere following the horrific incident last August.

But they still come back to see “Liv’s house”, a miniature home built in the cemetery where she was laid to rest with her comfort bear, Pearl.

Thomas Cashman was jailed for life with a minimum of 42 years for Olivia's murder (Liverpool Echo)

“I tell her what we have been up to, I tell her how Ryan and Chloe are getting on, I’ve even told her about the plans of the garden, I’ve showed her them on my phone,” Cheryl says.

But at their new home the family have found their pain too unbearable to start unboxing Olivia’s room.

For Cheryl, the innate routine of getting up to do Olivia’s school run is still engrained in her bodyclock.

Cheryl said: “I can’t bring myself to open her stuff yet, it’s all there in boxes in my room.

“I’ve got the memory bear made from her pyjamas, I’ve got a jewellery box and a snowglobe, there’s all little trinkets round the house.

“I still get up at 7.30 the same time I would have for the school run. I’ve got the same routine every morning.

Olivia was shot as her mum tried to protect her (PA)
Olivia's murder shocked the country (PA)

“For a while I was struggling to eat breakfast but I realised that if I made myself ill I wouldn’t be here for Ryan and Chloe.

“Regardless of how old they are, they’re still my babies.”

But in taking things day by day, the family have also been served little reminders of Liv’s cheeky spirit by finding seemingly unremarkable items.

“Even her pencil case when I came across it I found all my pens. I said no wonder I couldn't find my pens. She's had them all.”

By talking about her every day, they are living together in their happy memories of Liv.

Asked how she copes returning to Dovecot 10 months on from Liv's passing, Cheryl believes it is keeping her daughter's name alive that keeps her strong.

She said: “Obviously my family are down here, my two best friends, and of course I come down to see the baby, I can’t say it’s easy, it's really hard,” she sobs.

“I’ve been brought up here all my life. My kids were brought up here.

“It's my roots I can’t forget where I have come from, doing the garden is keeping her memory alive.”

Neighbours want safe space for kids

In the wake of Olivia's death, residents told chilling stories of shootings in broad daylight in the area.

Police confirmed that one nearby shooting had unfolded in a children’s park, just two weeks before Olivia was killed in her own home.

Children as young as 12 stood at the scene of Olivia’s murder and told the Mirror there is “nothing for us” in Dovecot, Liverpool.

But the residents here on Kingsheath Avenue hope that the plans to create a memorial garden in her name will provide a safe space for children in Dovecot to play and meet up.

Local construction businessman, Stephen Blennerhassett, 74, has designed a garden with miniature roads, roundabouts and toys to take kids off the street where Olivia was killed.

While the work is being done free of charge, Stephen estimates the cost of materials and equipment to complete it will be in the region of £100,000-£130,000.

Olivia's mum Cheryl with friends and family outside court before Thomas Cashman's sentencing (Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)

They also need another £130,000 to secure the lease for the clubhouse and £70,000 renovate it into a community centre.

To that end, a band of residents including Olivia’s mum, Cheryl and her aunt, Kerrieann have come together and formed the Kingsheath and District Veteran's Association.

The community group is on a mission to put a stop to the fatal gangland feuds which claimed Olivia’s life by giving young people here opportunities other than a life of crime.

As well as providing activities for young people, night courses and life advice, they want the grass where Olivia once played to be a haven for youngsters.

A tree on the field has already been turned into a shrine for the nine-year-old.

But the group wants to surround it with benches and install a limestone plaque inviting people to remember her bright and beautiful life.

There will also be a mural painting of Olivia and sign above the entrance to the park, telling everyone this is “The Olivia Pratt Korbel Memorial Park”

How to donate

Scan the QR Code here with your phone or tablet camera to go to Olivia's memorial park fundraiser, visit OR Send your cheques to Daily Mirror, PO Box 4010 with the following details: Name - Kingsheath and District Veteran's Association, sort code: 53-70-21 Account number: 75230771

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