NINE eight-year-old girls were running their hearts out today in memory of a much-loved sister and friend.

The children, eight of them pupils at Westdene Primary School in Brighton, were taking part in the Brighton Mini Mile in memory of Rosie Granocchia, who died of liver cancer last year.

Rosie’s twin Charlotte and a group of their friends are raising money for Cancer Research UK and have so far made more than £2,000.

The other girls are Nell Osborne, Lucy Arnold, Megan Thomas, Kelsie Wishman, Freya Starmer, Isobel Majumdar, Jessica Cable and Juliet Boyd.

Juliet, who was a friend of Rosie since they were babies and remains a close family friend of the Granocchias, travelled down from Warwick to take part.

Kelsie, whose twin brother Corey was running in the boys’ race, met Rosie when they were three.

She said: “I am really looking forward to running for Rosie with my friends.

“It is great to raise money for cancer and everyone has been really kind.”

Rosie was diagnosed with stage four liver cancer in December 2016 when she was just seven.

It was later discovered to be a rare form of the cancer.

Rosie stayed at the Royal Marsden hospital for nearly five months with her mother, Jane Granocchia, while she was receiving treatment.

She never came home, and she died in May 2017.

“Unfortunately there were no real signs of Rosie’s illness that we could have looked out for,” said Jane, 37, a clinical psychologist from Westdene.

“We took her to the doctors and she was admitted to the Alex that same day and diagnosed with liver cancer that evening.”

Rosie initially went to the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton, then she moved to King’s College Hospital in London before finally going to the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.

Jane said: “The Royal Marsden became our home for those months and they were amazing.

“They looked after Rosie incredibly well and she formed friendships with all of the staff.

“After receiving the diagnosis we still held on to hope despite Rosie having a rare and aggressive type of liver cancer.

“Sadly our hope could only get us so far and the treatment did not work.”

Charlotte said: “I’m running with a group of mine and Rosie’s friends to remember Rosie.

“I really want to raise money for Cancer Research because I do not want other people to be ill like Rosie.

“I want to make sure there are better treatments for children with cancer.

“I think Rosie would be really happy that we are doing this, but I am very sad that she is not here to run with us too.

“We all miss her very much.”

The Brighton Mini Mile in Preston Park is held every year the day before the Brighton Marathon to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

The races are open to children aged seven to 17.

The other eight girls who are running formed Rosie and Charlotte’s close-knit friendship group.

Jane said: “When Rosie was at the Royal Marsden last year, Charlotte ran the mini mile with some friends and they wanted to do it again this year.

“Charlotte and Rosie were incredibly close and were in the same class at school ever since nursery.

“But despite being virtually inseparable, they had a close group of friends, some of whom they have known since they were babies, and many since they joined Westdene pre-school at three years old.

“Charlotte visited Rosie in hospital twice a week and had sleepovers with her at the weekend.

“Rosie would be very proud of them for running.

“But I know that she would also be very sad to miss out on being able to run with her sister and friends.”

The girls have raised more than £2,300 for the charity so far by asking their families and friends and spreading the word as much as possible.

Jane said: “Cancer research is so important.

“I hope that in the future, less aggressive and more effective treatments will be made available specifically for children.

“No family should have to go through the pain of losing a child, it really is the worst thing imaginable.

“I am very proud of Charlotte and her friends for doing something so positive in response to something so devastating.”

Kelsie’s mother Julie Wishman, from Preston Park, said: “It is really hard to have to explain to your child that sometimes, young people die too.

“Before this, they all thought that people lived to 100 and then they died.

“It is the last thing you expect and a big shock to all of us.

“The school has been fantastic in the way that they have handled this.

“Charlotte has been so strong and it is thanks to her fantastic parents.”

The girls were all running wearing signs on the backs of their T-shirts saying “Running for Rosie”.

The signs included the picture of four female superheroes which Rosie’s father Steve Granocchia painted on a canvas as a Christmas present for her to hang up in her room in hospital.

Jane said: “It was an image that Rosie loved, and we think it is very fitting because Rosie is our superhero.”

Donations can be made at

l For more marathon runner stories, see pages 22 and 23.