Belfast teenager who touched Adele’s heart loses fight for life

Singer Adele at the bedside of Rebecca Gibney in March last year
Singer Adele at the bedside of Rebecca Gibney in March last year

A Belfast teenager whose brave battle with serious illness touched the hearts of many, including singer Adele, will today be laid to rest.

Rebecca Gibney died on Boxing Day aged just 14 in her home in the Short Strand. She had suffered from cerebral palsy, epilepsy and was blind.

In March last year, the teenager made headlines in Northern Ireland and beyond when global superstar Adele came to her bedside after learning of her plight.

Her mum Tracy had led a campaign to persuade the English pop sensation to visit her daughter in Belfast, explaining that she was a huge fan who insisted on listening to Adele’s music around the clock.

During the Belfast leg of her world tour Adele surprised the family when she arranged to come to their home, then spent an hour at Rebecca’s bedside, creating memories that her mother said they would cherish for a lifetime.

At her SSE Arena gig that night Adele dedicated a song to Rebecca and thanked her for inviting her into her home.

Rebecca’s devoted mother Tracy had cared for her seriously ill daughter in their home in the Short Strand in east Belfast with the help of Rebecca’s older sister Joanna, 21.

The family had been told on several occasions Rebecca had only months to live, but she defied the odds to survive into her teens.

On Boxing Day her brave fight ended when the teenager passed away in her home surrounded by her family.

Ms Gibney told the Irish News her daughter brought joy to their home.

She said: “She was my world. She was Joanna’s world. We would have kept her with us forever, only it wouldn’t have been fair on Rebecca.”

Recalling the day when the chart-topping singer made her daughter’s “dream come true”, she said: “We were delighted when Adele called to our house.

“Rebecca listened to her music all day and at night when I put her to bed I had to put Adele on for her, you could see it made her happy.”

Tracy added: “She brought so much love and joy to our home. We’ll miss her every day. She was a little angel.”

Rebecca will be buried this morning at Roselawn Cemetery following Requiem Mass at St Matthew’s Church.

One message to Rebecca and her family on social media read: “Fly high little angel, forever watching over those who loved you.”

Another read: “Little angel on earth and now in heaven. Thoughts and prayers for mum and sister and family circle.”