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We had to let go of our grown up girl

PUBLISHED: 18:30 19 November 2001 | UPDATED: 15:21 03 March 2010

VICKY Hall was rapidly maturing into a young woman.

She was becoming independent, getting ready to fly the family nest - within a year she would probably have been far away at university.

VICKY Hall was rapidly maturing into a young woman.

She was becoming independent, getting ready to fly the family nest – within a year she would probably have been far away at university.

It is a testing time for any family,

especially a close-knit one like the Halls.

With each year that passes through childhood, children need their parents less. The first big growing up stage is high school, when they go out of reach and influence, and all mum and dad's patience and persuasion is needed for them to trust the family with their troubles and

problems.

By the time they reach those difficult mid-to-late teens, it's a gap full of secrets, hidden knowledge, and hormones. Adulthood is approaching fast.

Parents may pretend to themselves that they know what their children are up to, but in many cases they would be shocked to know what is said and done by the youngsters when they are out of sight, off on their own and with friends.

At 17, Vicky was a young woman. Perhaps not in law, but in mind and body she was beyond her years – as virtually all teenage girls are – and wanting to do all the things her peers were doing.

She wanted to go clubbing, she wanted to go out with her friends for meals and fun and wanted her freedom.

Vicky had had a few boyfriends but friends say none of them were serious and nothing out of the ordinary, typical of the sort of friendships and liaisons formed by teenage girls with slightly older lads.

She was a pretty girl and was always likely to be chatted up.

Mum Lorinda and dad Graham were faced with difficult and anxious decisions as they sought to protect her but let her grow up into a young woman – and they were blessed with a sensible daughter, one who would not shun her studies for a good time or abuse their trust.

A keen dancer, she asked them if she could go with her best friend Gemma Algar, of High Road, Trimley, to The Bandbox nightclub in Felixstowe.

She already had a Saturday job at Strides clothes shop in Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, earning some cash to pay for clothes and CDs.

Sampling Felixstowe's nightlife was another part of her growing up. Her

parents were uneasy about her going out until the early hours, but accepted that she needed to learn to stand on her own two feet and gradually allowing her to go was the best way to do it.

"She was nearly 18 and she wanted to go out and as parents it is very difficult to hold on to them forever. It was not

practical to keep her in – she was growing up, but we told her to be careful and she was very responsible," said Graham.

"She was a sensible girl and she would never put herself consciously in danger. For example, she would never have walked along the seafront at Felixstowe on her own at night.

"When she parted from Gemma on the edge of the estate she would have

considered that she was home.

"The estate has always been her home, since she was a baby. She would not have thought it dangerous to walk those last few yards on her own or that anything would happen."

She always let her parents know where she was and they had impressed upon her many times the need to take taxis late at night or in the early hours for safety – or to call and dad would pick her up.

Lorinda said Vicky was a very loving girl and believed she would have come to her parents if she had problems.

"We've always been very open. We've always sat down with both our children and said no matter what the problem, there's nothing that can't be sorted out. They could always talk to us," she said.

"We have disagreements like any family, but if Victoria had anything on her mind, I'm sure she would have told us."

Vicky had been going to the Bandbox on Bent Hill for about two months before that fateful night. She only went at

weekends because of all her homework.

Each time she went with Gemma and while they sometimes met up with friends from school, they mostly just stuck

together, dancing, enjoying the freedom and the evenings, getting used to being out and about alone, soaking up the

atmosphere of a new experience.

Petite and blonde, Vicky was a

strikingly pretty young woman. She was quietly-spoken and according to friends and family didn't drink, smoke or take drugs.

She was a bright girl – studying A-levels in English, sociology and business studies – and looking forward to

university. She wanted to study sociology to degree level and although she had no firm career plans, teaching was something she had considered.

Her mum, Lorinda, recalled at the memorial service: "Vicky was as perfect as everyone said. People said no-one could be that perfect, but she was. Her smile was wonderful.

"She always had a view on everything. She might not agree with you, but she would always listen to the other's person's view and compromise."

She was developing as a person,

learning to fit in with the adult world,

getting ready to become a fully-fledged member.

Tragically, she was never to do so, taken and killed just as she was looking forward to so much in life.

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