She was academically brilliant, she loved writing, literature and the world around her. She also had a black belt in karate and was extremely sociable and outgoing. She loved life and she loved her family and friends.
Averil had a passion for writing and a wonderful ability to articulate the fire in her heart - but ironically, she is hard to put into words.
She had a profound effect on those who knew her, and will always be remembered for the way she continued to 'Accentuate the Positive' throughout life. One friend from CRGS said "Everybody who ever met Averil instantly fell in love with her.
She was the most kind, gentle and loving person I have ever had the pleasure of being friends with, and time spent with her was magical”.
Averil’s courage and strength were inspirational for many, and her energy, spiritedness, warmth, compassion and wicked sense of humour will stay with her friends and family forever. Sharing the memories and laughter with Averil has been a blessing, and we will carry her in our hearts.
Firstly, I would just like to say that, despite the sadness, I have found myself, at times, overcome with such sheer happiness when thinking about Averil. Whenever I think about her, I swell up with such pride I can’t contain; I still wonder why she chose me.
Aside from being stunningly beautiful, she was so talented, intelligent (one of the smartest people I’ve ever met) and feisty, and I remain in awe of who she was, and count myself so lucky that, the better I got to know her, the more intimately I could connect with her both intellectually and spiritually.
She was very driven, and certainly got what she wanted – I remember that if a song came on that she wanted to dance to, she wouldn’t say anything, just put her arms around my neck and that was it, we’d be dancing – no arguing! Part of why I’ve felt compelled to write something for today, is because she was such a brilliant writer, and she brought out the best in my own writing, that it feels like this is a fitting way for me to honour her.
It’s difficult to speak about Averil without delving into superlatives and clichés; but I’ve come to realise that the reason that they exist is to help us put into words what we otherwise wouldn’t be able to. There comes a point when I can no longer describe how much I love Averil, and how amazed I am by her – my knowledge of the English language simply isn’t enough to do her justice.
One particular anecdote that seems apt at the moment is one where I get off the train at Sudbury station, and she is waiting for me at the same spot at the end of the platform, and she is smiling a smile that she saves only for me. Averil was that sort of person, she was able to connect with people on an emotional level so easily – empathise with them rather than sympathise, make you feel like you were the only person in the world that mattered, and that’s why I believe people were so drawn to her – it’s certainly one of the reasons that I was.
I’m finding it very difficult to come to terms with the fact that our time together was so short, and that we won’t get to pass through all the usual milestones of a relationship, but I have found some solace through reading a book of hers that she bought when we were in Paris. She had underlined key words and passages (like the best writers do) and one such passage sprung out at me:
“If there is such a thing as marriage, it takes place long before the ceremony: in a car on the way to the airport; or as a gray bedroom fills with dawn, one lover watching the other…You don’t know then. But later you realise – that was the moment.”
The more I think about it, the more I realise that Averil and I really did manage to fit in a lifetime of love in the time that we had together. We were always conscious of time, and so it seemed that every moment we were together it was a big event, even if we were just walking round the shops, or going bowling.
I will finish by just saying that Averil is my best friend, I’m always going to miss her, but I am truly honoured to have known her, loved her, and been loved by her. She leaves behind a legacy of love, I know that we will all honour this; looking after each other, the people that she loved and I know that if we do this, she won’t be very far away.
Last year, Averil wrote to me and said:
I once wrote a poem in school that said, "Love is realising your insignificance in the world and thriving upon it." The teacher underlined 'insignificance' and put a cross. I meant insignificance. It's as if I've realised I might as well enjoy every single day I have on this earth, because I really am just a tiny part of something far bigger than me. Does that make any sense? Perhaps not, but it's giving me a lot of strength and a whole new perspective on my life and my actions and even my illness.
I read this again, and maybe like you, see all sorts of things in what Averil wrote, trying to hold onto the positive, as she did, as she asked us all.
I'm seeing again her gift and passion for words and the way they can help make sense of life and find a way through to meaning, even in the midst of battle.
I'm seeing her fire - how, from the very first, she knew exactly what she meant and felt - and her burning strength and determination to hold fast to what she believed.
I'm seeing her love of mind and clarity and the shining value she placed on that.
I'm grinning and cheering and banging a drum because, despite everything, she won for herself the chance to taste a life of learning and writing and doing what she dreamed of. A flatful of friends and books and fairy lights. New ideas and adventures every day. Lectures to run to, fresh from parties and all-nighters.
And I'm seeing those blazing, dare-me eyes her loving father and mother gave her.
My first memories of Averil were of her just a few days old in her mother's arms under the large Christmas tree at the barn. It was a magical scene particularly given the time of year. She was an absolutely beautiful baby with an incredible shock of fine dark hair. She and Miranda looked the picture of contentment and peace with Nic the radiant father and Imogen and Zoe looking on, both delighted to have a baby sister.
Subsequently we remember Averil as a plucky and adventurous three and a half year old on a family holiday in Skye. She walked determinedly the whole way up a rough path to a wild corrie at 1500 feet on the black Cuillin Mountains and with no hint of a complaint retraced her steps the whole way down.
Our memories of Averil growing up are of her vivacity and enthusiasm in all aspects of her life from showing us her moves on the trampoline to telling us of her sleepovers with friends and of her playful teasing of her sisters and parents. When we were visiting a few years ago, Frieda has clear memories of her cousin Averil comforting her when she was taken ill, letting her sleep in her bed and giving her a lollypop to celebrate her recovery!
Whilst she was an inpatient in hospital last year, Seb and Averil had e mail correspondence over a period of several months. Averil was keen to hear of his travels in South America and shared her hopes to surf, scuba dive and drink rum and coke on the beach in Costa Rica when she had left hospital and recovered.
We have all been devastated by Averil's sudden and untimely death. On what would have been her 20th birthday just before Christmas we joined all our family in the south by remembering Averil and releasing a candle lantern into the Scottish night sky.
We chose the poem ‘Remember’ by Christina Rossetti which her cousin Joe and I read as we did so. We chose the poem as felt strongly that Averil would wish us to remember the joyful times that we had all shared and we do this with great affection and much love.
One of my earliest memories of Averil is of sitting on Woolacombe beach in Devon cuddling her aged six months whilst her sisters made merry on the sand. She was so calm and incredibly beautiful, all dark hair, elfin face. The expression 'calm before the storm' springs to mind after some visits to the barn when Averil as a toddler could 'hold court' at the table and show her determination in every way! She always seemed to know what she wanted.
My girls remember bouncing on the trampoline with her and enjoyed the special attention she so willingly gave them. She loved her cousins and they really felt that.
I remember her sense of wanting to explore and try something new. And the things she turned her hand to she excelled at not only because she was so creative and talented but also because she had such energy, enthusiasm, determination.
I have a strong memory of her showing us a full karate kata and the way that she moved with grace, strength and beauty. She moved her body so naturally, it was a joy to watch.
Averil came to visit just before she went into hospital, not having seen her cousins for a while, she immediately found a way to connect with them, talking about music, books and 'girlie things'. She also told them that she wanted to spend more time with them.
A young woman of her word. Later that evening she phoned to say she was taking them to the theatre and for a meal. They have the memory of a most wonderful evening with their cousin, who had pulled strings to get the tickets and had been determined to give her cousins a special evening. The more I hear about Averil the more I realise that this was one of her incredible qualities that she was able to show to her family and friends.
Ella and Anna told me that they wrote messages saying they loved her on napkins in the restaurant, Averil kept them and later told them she had put them up in her room in hospital.
When we saw her in hospital it was tough seeing her so poorly and I can't imagine how tough it was for her, but she had made friendship bracelets for her cousins and talked to them about things that she wanted to do with them and although we cried, we laughed too and witnessed that so wicked sense if humour.
I feel priveliged to have known Averil and to know through family and friends how she touched their lives, to witness so much strength, love and warmth from her dedicated Mum and Dad, her most amazing sisters, devoted boyfriend, Alex and friends and family. I am such a proud Aunty.
Averil radiated love, beauty and fun the whole time; endlessly, tirelessly. She was so full of life and energy that one was left in awe of someone who was able to do so much in her life and do it so perfectly.
She had a lot of raw courage too. When, with Andy, my son-in-law, I went to see her in Addenbrookes hospital before she went to the University of East Anglia, I was disturbed to see how frail she was. Yet she had not lost that sparkle, that sense of fun that she had always had and seemed extremely confident in her ultimate recovery.
All the time she was in hospital and right up to the end at UEA, she and I kept up a weekly exchange of emails together and she often sent me cheeky postcards which I have kept and cherish.
She had decided that, when she recovered, she would learn to fly and with the many books that I sent her, she was determined to achieve that ambition. She would have done it, of that I'm certain, for there was absolutely no limit to her abilities and her dreams would have enabled her to 'reach for the stars'.
It's all too late, now that she has gone. One hopes, perhaps without too much expectation, that those Doctors and Clinicians responsible for her death have the courage that Averil had, and realise their failings and admit that they let this young, vital, talented young woman die. Let's hope that future sufferers of AN will get the treatment and the care that they deserve.
Messages and Memories from Averil's Friends
Mica, Averil's Cousin:
I got asked last night if I have any new years resolutions Bill. I replied, Accentuate the Positive. :) Love you buckets xxx
Hetal, a friend from CRGS:
Say not in grief that she is no more but say in thankfulness that she was. A death is not the extinguishing of a light, but the putting out of the lamp because the dawn has come.
Cesca & Millie, school friends:
A beautiful person inside and out, thinking of you and your family ♥ all our love, Cesca and Millie xxx
Alex, Averil's boyfriend:
2013 is going to be tricky, but I find endless comfort in the fact that 2012 has been, in many ways, the best year of my life. Thank you for that. As always, I remain hopelessly in love with you.
Ellen, a school friend:
I watched videos of us dressed up as fairies prancing around my living room for my birthday- it was hilarious for my part but you were just so small, cute and perfect.
Harry, a 6th form friend:
You were always so strong and made everyone so happy. Thank you especially for making Alex so happy and being so wonderful. We are all thinking of you, I promise you I'll look after him! I'm sure you're doing the same. Missing and thinking of you. x
Rachel, a friend from S3 ward at Addenbrooke's:
Remembering her fantastic voice as she sang down the ward every minute of everyday, the inspirational quotes on the board and the internet shopping we did... the evening sofa chats :) gorgeous young lady inside and out.
Laura, a friend from S3 ward at Addenbrooke's:
Beautiful girl with a beautiful spirit - always there to cheer up the breakfast table with an inspiring quote of the day... The 9.30am showers with beautiful singing that impressed the builders!
Stacey, a friend from S3 ward at Addenbrooke's:
There isn't a day that goes by when I don't think of you. The beautiful girl that brought light to my darkest days. You were too soft, too gentle for any of this. I hope you've finally found your peace.
Emma, a friend from CRGS:
I feel incredibly lucky to have met such a warm and wise girl as you Averil. Thinking of you x
Armonie, a friend from St. Mary's:
I knew Averil primarily at St. Mary's School, but got to know her a little better in the last year. During her time at CRGS, Averil and my then boyfriend, Lawrence, became good friends and confided in each other quite a lot. It was through Lawrence that I got to know Averil much better. When we lost our beloved lawrence last year, Averil was wonderful to me and she helped me, with her wise and loving words, more than I can ever say.
Averil was always a sense of wonder to me; she was extremely beautiful, both inside and out - talented, generous, kind and funny. She helped pull me through such a terrible time, and words cannot portray what a massive void she will leave for everyone who knew her. Lawrence's family, my family and I would like to say how much our thoughts are with her family and close friends at this unimaginable time. She was, simply, an angel.
An anonymous tribute:
Averil is one of the most incredible girls I've ever had the absolute sheer delight of knowing. I think everyone who has known her felt that there was something very special, even magical about her. I'll always remember when she tried so hard to teach me how to dance with boys because she was amazing... and I wasn't; and how we skipped mornings off school to have cups of tea. I really admired her as a person, and her attitude on life was inspiring, even when she was in hospital. She really gave me a lot of things, including her brownie recipe. I'm not half the cook she is, but maybe one day I will be.
In the time I was lucky enough to have with Averil, she taught me so many things. She taught me to be patient and kind, not only with others but with myself too. She taught me also that we must sometimes endure struggle in order to appreciate the true magnificence of the world, but that this was okay because ultimately, it makes us stronger. Averil taught me how to be fun and free and enjoy every second of each passing day, and most precious of all, she helped me understand that being a mother was not a time to be afraid, but an opportunity to fill someone's world with as much love and joy as I could muster. I am taking forward every ounce of Averil's wisdom in to my journey or motherhood, and aim to fill our little boy's world with as much magic, beauty and wonder as Averil found in hers. Honouring your memory always my darling,
I love and miss you sweetheart x
I still miss you terribly Averil. I still think to call you (you are still on my phone favourite contacts!) and still wish to meet for a coffee. Although I cannot do this in person, I will forever do this in my mind.
I still feel just as close to you now as I ever have done, and every person I know in my new life without you knows about you and how amazing you are. Even though new people in my life have never met you, they understand how important you are to my life, and the life to many others, and they still join in for a toast whenever I do a tequila shot! Your spirit is as alive as ever.
Here's to you Averil xxx
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