India Wilkinson remembered

An event held in memory of 19-year-old India Wilkinson has raised almost £20,000 for the hospice where she died last December.

Well over 200 people, including many of India’s friends and family, filled the York Hall at Malvern St James Girls’ School to celebrate India’s life and enjoy an evening which included a personal appearance by TV’s Julia Bradbury.

India’s grandfather Roger Young said the ‘exceptional care’ his granddaughter received at St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford was the inspiration behind the event.

‘Hospice staff did everything possible to enrich her life,’ he said. ‘She benefited so much from physiotherapy sessions with Siobhan MacQuillan who always listened to India and recognised she was an intelligent adult with a determination to stay independent for as long as possible.’

Roger began planning the celebration while India was still alive with the pair approaching Malvern St James, where India was a pupil, for help. India’s former Headmistress, Olivera Raraty said, ‘India has deeply touched the lives of our school’s community, so there was a real desire to support St Michael’s and help organise a memorial day for her.’

The affection felt for India was illustrated on the night by the screening of a film showing over 40 of her friends lighting candles to commemorate what would have been India’s 20th birthday in January.

The highlight of the evening was an auction of prints created by India with help from Ledbury Letterpress and Tilly’s Press in Ledbury. The limited edition artworks also featured in a film made by India while at St Michael’s Hospice. India’s film and prints contain inspirational quotes and were first shown at India’s memorial service which was held at Canwood Gallery in Checkley where a sculpture raised in memory of India now stands for all to view.

The five prints, each with illustrated quotes, including ‘We are all stories in the end – just make it a good one’ and ‘Happiness is a quiet dog walk’ sold for a total of £4850 in the auction hosted by TV personality Charlie Luxton.

India’s passion for sport was celebrated earlier in the day when school staff along with students past and present turned out to play a memorial netball match. India’s love of science and art was also marked with the unveiling of a new painting by sixth form art student Josselyn Chau, which reflects India’s appreciation of Gustav Klimt and contains photographs and quotes contributed by friends and family.

India’s mother, Zinnia Wilkinson, said, ‘The evening was a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge everything the Hospice did for India, and continues to do for my family. I’d like to thank everyone involved for their generosity. The support from the communities of Malvern St James and St Michael’s Hospice is what had helped keep me going during times when I didn’t feel like keeping going.’

The Hospice’s Community Fundraising Manager, Paddy Nugent, said, ‘It is humbling to see the gratitude shown by all of India’s friends and family. We would also like to give special thanks to Roger Young, Rebecca Jones, Sue Davies, Ali Haydn-Jones, Matthew Young and everyone at Malvern St James for giving their time and resources so generously.’

Photo l-r:  Olivera Raraty, Siobhan MacQuillan, Zinnia Wilkinson and Paddy Nugent.