Averil was a wonderful daughter and sister; she was born at home with her family around her. She was the cheeky, lovable, fun girl at the front of family and school photos, always with a smile and a song. Averil was academically brilliant, she loved writing and literature and the world around her. She also had a black belt in karate and was extremely sociable and outgoing. Averil loved life and she loved her family and friends.
Averil described herself as the Christmas present for all the family – and she was – born just a few days before Christmas day, she filled our lives with sunshine and laughter. Every cherished memory we have is her precious gift to us.
Averil had boundless energy and endless enthusiasm, and she was fiercely independent and spirited. She knew what she wanted and would defend her corner with clear, considered arguments that were very difficult to challenge or derail. Infuriating as it was, you had to admire her love of language and her extraordinary mind. She was witty and funny, but she was also deeply caring and loving and she showed a deep compassion for others that was humbling.
Averil loved the big occasion. Every birthday party was an extravaganza, serious fancy dress, and an invitation extended to everyone; Christmas was a magical, memorable winter wonderland; and holidays were white water rafting in Canada, surfing in Devon, running up the Cuilins in Skye and shoveling water out of our tent when we became submerged in Bordeaux.
Extremely feisty, Averil strode into life and embraced it with her whole heart – in only a way she knew how. On her first day at her new school in year 4 she happily signed herself up for a PGLA trip to France which promised fun, friendship and activities – she didn’t know anyone, but that didn’t matter – for her, it was excitement! Adventure! At the same time, she started karate with Peter Shaw and went on to become a First Dan, getting her black belt when she was 11 years old.
Averil loved life and sport, and she was also passionate about her music and drama. She tried her feet at football, and enjoyed netball, tennis and being a valued member of the school teams – sharing victory or defeat with friends – it didn’t matter, it was about being there with the people she loved. She played the flute, guitar and piano, wrote her own songs, and sang beautifully.
Averil had clarity of mind that left most of us spellbound. She loved language and had a unique way of using words to inspire others with her wisdom and courage. Friendship was so important to Averil, and she was tremendously loyal to those she loved. I have been overwhelmed by letters that she has kept from those who have called her their best friend, and have thanked her so movingly for being there and for helping them through difficult times.
Averil was a free spirit and embraced freedom, but I know this is not the freedom she had in mind. Averil was tremendously courageous and she fought bravely every day to be free of the illness that was casting the shadows over her life. For many of us, it is probably difficult to understand why Averil couldn’t just reach out and take our helping hands, but that is one of the cruel complexities of an illness that has a voice of its own. The illness was not Averil’s choice, but our Warrior Princess kept her sense of humour and dignity throughout her life, and each day she turned her face towards the sun.
Averil danced to her own tune, and she wrote her song surrounded by the love of her family, who adored her. Averil would have raised the roof with an extra spectacular chorus to her song if she had simply had the time. We could not be more proud of her.