A FAMILY have spoken of their heartbreak after it was confirmed the body of a woman found in a river is that of Leanne Chambers, who vanished more than five months ago.

Her mother, Val Chambers, spoke after DNA results proved what police and Miss Chambers’ family had feared, since the body was found in the River Wear at Cox Green, between Penshaw and Sunderland, on July 1.

Miss Chambers had been missing since the end of February from the home she shared with partner Steve Crossland in Chester-le- Street.

Mrs Chambers said last night the news would at least allow the family the chance to move on and grieve properly for the popular 30-year-old, who would have celebrated her birthday on June 7.

She said: “Knowing that Leanne has now been found, we can put her to rest.

“Ever since she went missing, we have lived with the agony of wondering what had happened to her, reacting to every knock on the door, every phone call or every car which pulled up outside.

“We will always remember her as the life and soul of any party, whose smile lit up the room when she walked in.

“Wherever she worked, Leanne had a group of friends. She loved socialising and was such a bubbly person.”

Leanne, who was born in Shildon and attended the local Sunnydale Comprehensive School, worked for car parts supplier Calsonic Kansei, in Washington, Wearside.

The holder of a business studies degree from Teesside University, she was the first member of her family to go on to higher education.

She formerly worked as a sales representative for The Northern Echo.

Mrs Chambers said: “We are absolutely heartbroken to have lost Leanne, but we are a large family who all support each other.

“I would also like to thank both Calsonic Kansei and Formica Ltd, who I work for.

“They have both been brilliant in terms of their help and support, as have the police.”

Described by her mother as a fitness fanatic, Miss Chambers was also a keen karaoke singer and had even applied to take part in the auditions for the X Factor, which were held in Manchester in April.

She leaves an older sister, Michelle, and younger brother, David.

Her aunt, Christine Toase, said: “It has been awful not knowing all this time. We have been on a constant rollercoaster of emotions.

“But now that we know Leanne has been found, at least we have some form of closure.”

An inquest into Miss Chambers’ death will be held in due course.