On the 12 December 2009 many of Katie’s friends and family were at Fairford to celebrate Katie and Richard’s wedding. It was the happiest day of their lives and it gave Avril and me even more happiness than our own wedding.
I found it emotional enough as Katie’s father to speak on such a joyous occasion as her wedding – on the way to the church she said to me in the wedding car Dad, no tears or you’ll get me going and make my mascara run,” – but to have speak only three months later at her funeral was something I would never want any parent to have to go through. Katie’s tragic passing has left us in unfathomable depths of despair.
Katie was born on the 31st January 1979 – a cold, dark, freezing, slippery night – but against the elements we were gifted a beautiful, warm, bright, browned-eyed little girl with a mass of brown hair! Our happiness lasted every day of her 31 years and 18 days! We cannot remember one day when were seriously angry with her – she never gave us cause!
As a daughter, we could not have asked for a more considerate, loving child. We remember vividly her first day at school with her smart new grey uniform; every birthday party till she left home for university; family holidays, sports days with her instantly recognisable running style, arms flaying as she propelled herself forward to the finish somewhere in the middle of the pack! She was not a natural runner but later in life she ran two marathons and raised thousands of pounds for charity. We went to nearly every school netball match and sat for many evenings at chlorine-filled swimming pools watching her train and compete! Katie loved all sports, with a particular passion for Arsenal Football Club! On Saturday afternoons and other match days texts and phone call would arrive from all three children celebrating or commiserating. On January 20th five days after returning from their honeymoon I got a text from Katie: ‘We’re losing to Bolton’ then a second text ‘we’re losing in the first 70 seconds’ – then mine to her ‘we lost 3-1!!!’ Tennis was also her great passion, a game she played well; and in 2008 she and Rich got Centre Court tickets in the draw for the Federer/Nadal final – one of the best finals in Wimbledon history and she loved every second! We were on holiday in Barbados and she gave us a running commentary by text.
I cried shamelessly in her room when we left her on her first day at Manchester University and we worried about her every day she was there. But it was her first choice university and she loved every minute of it.
In the austere early 1990s on camping holidays in our trailer tent Katie was the one who helped us put up the complicated structure while Adam and Lydia quietly disappeared to play – on reflection those were the happiest of family holidays despite my protestations about camping! On a weekend in Paris she was the one who guided us through the metro network, map in hand.
In 2000 it was our 25th Wedding anniversary and we planned a second honeymoon in the States – and Katie and Lydia came with us while Adam Inter-Railed in Europe. In New York Katie insisted we didn’t take cabs and guided us through the subway system! As per usual, she met someone she knew in a very crowded Little Italy. Later, during that wonderful trip driving north through California to Canada, some nights the four of us shared a room, but it didn’t matter, we wanted our second honeymoon with with our children.
And that’s how we live our lives, sharing everything with our children and Katie’s tragic death has left a gigantic chasm in our lives that we are never going to be able to fill but with Lydia and Adam, Richard and his family and our future son-in-law Michele, we are going to try to pull it together as Katie would have wanted. In time there will again be laughter when we look through photo albums and watch all those family DVDs, especially of Katie doing her cartwheels and directing family plays!
Your letters and cards of condolence have been overwhelming and a great comfort and support to us. We knew our daughter was popular but reading your tributes about Katie has made us even more proud; we’re bursting with pride with the knowledge that her friendship was so meaningful to her friends and with everyone with whom she had contact in life. Almost everyone has commented on her smile, a smile that radiated warmth, sincerity and happiness to whomever she met; all have commented on her beauty – I think she had a natural classic beauty; I don’t think she was ever aware of it herself but it was shown to its fullness on her wedding day! But her inner beauty was even more immense, her caring for her friends, remembering their birthdays and anniversaries, always seeing the best in people and keeping her group of friends in regular contact. As Adam and Hannah mentioned in their tributes to Katie, Katie was the glue that kept them all together!
We could not be more proud of our darling Katie and we will work ceaselessly to keep her memory alive and to help spread awareness of the deadly Carbon Monoxide that took her life. On Katie’s last birthday, her 31st, and the last time we saw her, she told us not to give her any presents but to donate it to Haiti – that was typical of her generosity of spirit. We would like to continue this generosity of spirit through her website. In the weeks, months and years to come, hopefully she would have helped many others and saved a few lives along the way too and continue to give help and comfort to others less fortunate through this Trust.
2010 has been unspeakably cruel to us but on 28th August 2010 our darling Lydia will marry Michele in Siena. They wanted to postpone for a later date but we are all insistent that we must have something happy to focus on and look forward to – Katie was to be chief bridesmaid and her innate enthusiasm and skill in organising such a happy event for her little sister had started in earnest – six emails to Avril and me on that fateful day alone about Lydia’s hen party!
Katie you have enriched our lives so much and given us immeasurable pride and pleasure all 31 years of your young life – you’ll never ever be forgotten sweetheart!