About Heather...

Heather was born on the 3rd November 1978. Her arrival completed our much longed for family.

She developed severe Crohn`s disease at the age of 9, and heart problems 6 years ago.

Because of her health problems, she had always lived at home, where she could have the love and support of her family.

Heather went to Rochester Grammar School, and studied hard in the hope that one day she would be well enough to go to university to study pharmacology. She valued education, and firmly believed it was an important way out of ignorance and poverty.

Books had always been the most important part of her life - her window on the world she said. There was always a list of, often obscure, books that we would be scouring the Internet and secondhand bookshops for - from poetry by John Clare, to animal husbandry on a Victorian farm. She wanted to know, and soak up the words. "How did you know that?" I would often ask her. Quietly she would say, "Oh, I read it in a book."

On the rare occasion she was well enough to come out, it was always a joy to see the simplest things through her eyes. She knew the names of plants and flowers that, once, I would have passed by without a second glance. She loved the peace that came from standing silently in a wood.

Although life was often difficult for her, she adapted and coped as best as she was able.

Heather taught me to see the best in people. She understood that life is not always easy, and to make allowances. She had compassion and understanding of other people's problems. Often I would go and find her, sit on her bed, and tell her things that were worrying me. She would quietly listen, even though she was often in pain and feeling unwell.

Heather didn't have much money, but gave monthly to several charities, Oxfam being the main one. Hoping in a small way to ease other people's suffering.

When our dear Heather passed away, Richard had a wonderful idea of friends and family giving Oxfam Gifts instead of flowers. Everyone was able to go and choose a gift, and either send it to us, or bring it to her funeral. We put all the Gift Cards up on the wall at home, and everyone could look and see what had been given with love, in Heather`s memory.

Richard and I still buy Oxfam Gifts, with love, for Heather on her birthday, Christmas and her anniversary. Grateful that she was a big part of our lives, and through us, she can still help those in need of help and support.

Richard is undertaking this journey on Heather's behalf in order to raise enough money to buy a classroom - a project of which she would so surely have approved. I do hope that you will be able to support him, both financially and by following his progress across the country.

Jenny Stedall - August 2010