Great Cornard/New Zealand: ‘Be inspired by Carrie the Brave’

A FAMILY has paid tribute to their “awesome fighter” and “simply beautiful” little girl who died after a three-and-a-half year battle with cancer.

Twelve-year-old Carrie Allen, who was diagnosed with a rare soft tissue cancer in 2009, died at home with her family by her side on Saturday.

Her parents Suzy and Jamie Allen, who was father at St Andrew’s Church in Great Cornard before relocating the family to New Zealand in early 2010, paid tribute to their daughter.

Mr Allen, who starred in the BBC documentary series A Country Parish, said while Carrie was at Wells Hall Primary School she made the “bestest and loveliest” friends.

“She loved taking part in all aspects of school life – but especially any related to art, singing and dance,” he said. “She was in the St Andrew’s children’s choir from its very beginning and thoroughly enjoyed taking a lead in it.

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“She particularly loved being in the school and community drama presentations, and took a starring role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat – and in the Daniel Jazz – despite being in the midst of chemo at the time.”

Carrie was diagnosed with rhabomyosarcoma in her left forearm in 2009 and underwent a gruelling course of chemotherapy, followed by surgery and radiotherapy.

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Mr Allen added: “She bore this treatment with courage and smiles, and built up an amazing courage.

“It was a struggle for Carrie keeping her weight up during chemo, especially as she was very, very sick. But she managed it amazingly well with sheer grit and determination.

“And she never once stopped smiling. We have never seen a person be so completely sick and then just carry on as if nothing had happened.”

The family, including Carrie’s sisters Danii, 16, Katy, 10, and five-year-old Roxy, emigrated to New Plymouth in New Zealand at the beginning of 2010 after Carrie’s treatment. Soon afterwards she was declared cancer-free.

Mr Allen, who is now Taranaki Cathedral dean, said: “It was a huge goal for her to look forward to and remarkably helped to pull her through her recovery. She soon settled into her new life and loved the new environment.”

Tragically she relapsed last year. “However, Carrie never allowed this to swerve her from her purpose which was to fight it, get through it and get on with her life,” he added.

“She hated to be the centre of attention, always preferring not to worry people. She was determined to ‘keep calm and carry on’.”

The family said they look back on their years in Great Cornard with pleasure and happiness as they were “golden times”.

Mr Allen said: “Carrie’s passing leaves us simply devastated, but filled with the faith which she herself firmly held right to the last.

“We pray for all those children and families suffering the burden of childhood cancer.

“Never give up hope – may you be inspired by the journey of Carrie the Brave – an awesome fighter and a simply beautiful person.”

Former teachers have remembered Carrie as being the “loveliest of lovely” girls.

Judith Fardell, headteacher at Wells Hall Primary School where Carrie was a pupil for four years, said: “Carrie was the loveliest of lovely children.

“She was very creative, very bright and a very good friend to everybody. She was good at drama and at singing.

“When she was in Year 4 her teacher was Mrs Tunbridge and that was when Carrie first had the cancer.

“She very bravely came into school after she had treatment and she just wanted to be like all the other children. She didn’t make any fuss and didn’t want to draw attention to herself.

“She was very brave and it’s a really sad loss for the everybody at the school, everyone is heartbroken.”

Staff, governors and pupils at Great Cornard Middle School have also paid tribute to the youngster. Headteacher Grace Williams said: “Carrie wasn’t at the school very long before moving with her family to New Zealand but during the short time she was with us she made a huge impression on those she came into contact with.

“Carrie proved herself to be extremely kind, helpful, positive and was a sociable and popular girl.

“She was a very bright pupil making excellent progress and was committed to her school studies despite the difficulties that she had with her health.

“Carrie loved art and writing poetry and was particularly skilful at motivating other pupils when working in groups and teams.

“Carrie will be missed by everyone who knew her and all our thoughts are with her family at this very difficult time.” Her friends, Hannah Bowen, Chester Bloomfield and Aaron Pengelly at Great Cornard Middle School, added: “Carrie always had a smile on her face. She was kind and sweet. She had a cheeky grin that was never wiped off.

“Carrie was a great listener, she was popular and had lots of friends. She never gave up.”

The Reverend Chris Ramsey, of St Andrew’s Church in Great Cornard, said the church community is devastated at Carrie’s death.

“She was very highly thought of and a very talented, bubbly girl,” he added. “She faced her battle with great resolve and great grace.”

A service celebrating Carrie’s life will be held at St Andrew’s Church on Friday at 11am.

Those attending are requested to wear pink.

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