'Charming people with a positive outlook'

It was a night to savour; the chance to celebrate the end of their exams with close friends.But on the way back from a rock concert in Ipswich, the lives of talented teenagers Claire and Jenny Stoddart and Carla Took were cut tragically short at the hands of another driver, who had spent the night drinking before getting behind the wheel.

It was a night to savour; the chance to celebrate the end of their exams with close friends.

But on the way back from a rock concert in Ipswich, the lives of talented teenagers Claire and Jenny Stoddart and Carla Took were cut tragically short at the hands of another driver, who had spent the night drinking before getting behind the wheel.

Just weeks later, the teen-agers' potential was summed up in their exam results, with Claire and Carla, both 18, ranking as Benjamin Britten High School's top female performers in their A-levels.

Claire achieved an A in English literature and Bs in biology and chemistry, which would have been enough to secure her a place at Nottingham University, where she had applied to study pharmacy.

Carla gained three As in English literature, media and ICT, and a C in history, which would have given her a place to study media at Lincoln University.

Meanwhile, 15-year-old Jenny, Claire's sister, had achieved a B grade in her ICT AS-level, which she had taken two years early.

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Carla's family summed up the excruciatingly bittersweet moment when they heard the results, saying in a statement: "All the family are extremely proud of Carla. We have very mixed emotions; we are so proud, but so sad she is not here to benefit from all the hard work she did. She should be here to open them herself and to celebrate.

"She wanted so much to go to university, but she will never have the chance to fulfil those dreams."

It was at the school where the girls had performed so well that much of the community's grief was displayed, with flowers and heartfelt messages filling up the courtyard in the days following the tragic crash on July 1.

Perhaps most poignant was a wristband from the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert, which the girls had attended shortly before their deaths.

As devastated pupils returned to Benjamin Britten High, known affectionately as Benji in Lowestoft, headteacher Trevor Osborne fought back tears as he described the loss of three "fabulous bright young girls".

In an emotional tribute, he added: "They were outstand-ing. Sometimes you meet kids who have this beauty around them because they are charming young people with a positive outlook on life…"

The outpouring of public grief at the waste of three talented lives also brought more than 500 people to the Lowestoft Community Church for a memorial service for the Stoddart sisters.

Jenny had been due to be baptised there the day before, but instead of a joyous family occasion there were tears of grief as friends, relatives and teachers came together to remember the sisters.

The last diary entries of both sisters were published in an order of service; Jenny's revealing her enthusiasm about the baptism and ending with how excited she was about going to the concert: "Red Hot Chili Peppers 2morrow. Can't wait. Yay!! xbyex"

The girls' father, Phil Stoddart, also spoke about his faith in Christianity and told how his wife, Heather, and other children, Amy and Tom, had been overwhelmed by the support they had received.

Just days later, the grieving community gathered again to say goodbye to Carla during a funeral service at St Michael's Church at Oulton, near Lowestoft.

Mourners heard how she was known as a "fun-loving" and "hard-working" girl, and had a passion for music, with more than 600 CDs in her collection.

After hearing of the tragedy, the group Dirty Pretty Things, a support act for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Ipswich, were inspired to join a national road safety campaign and held a London concert in the girls' memory.

Meanwhile, the memory of Claire and Carla will live on at Lowestoft-based holiday company Hoseasons, where both girls had worked. The firm launched The Claire and Carla Fund, giving £1,000 a year to support a student working for them.