Nicola's childhood dance with Daniel a precious memory

NICOLA Brander always will remember her dance with Daniel Morcombe.

The former Sunshine Coast photographer paid tribute to her long-lost childhood friend this week.

Ms Brander and Daniel met at Mountain Creek Primary School in Year 4.

"Daniel was quite a shy boy, but always smiling and laughing," she said.

"He was very well behaved for his teachers in school and everybody loved him and being around him.

"He loved animals. I reckon one day he would have become a vet. "

Her favourite memory of Daniel came from their Year 7 graduation.

"We were partners at the graduation," Ms Brander said.

"We got to dance together on the night and that is a memory that will stay with me forever."

She also recalled the day Daniel went missing.

"It didn't seem real. The following years I just hoped that they would find him," she said.

"His parents' determination and the determination of the Sunshine Coast gave me hope that they would find him.

"Everyone was in shock. It certainly made parents hold their children a lot tighter after that, knowing he had been taken in broad daylight.

"Bruce and Denise are an inspiration and are so incredibly strong to have never given up on finding Daniel and the person responsible.

"They have made children safer through their courage and determination."

She never let her friend's memory fade.

In recent years she got a tattoo on an ankle, showing Daniel's name and a red ribbon

"I try to remember his cheeky smile and laugh and the happier memories."

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