Thursday 22nd May 2008 is a day I will never forget as that is the day our precious daughter Olivia Elaine Raby was taken away from us. She was playing rounders whilst at school, aged 14.
Olivia was our only child, who was a fit and healthy young girl and was turning into a beautiful lady before our eyes. She loved participating in sport – she was the captain of her primary school netball team and had represented Salford in the youth games playing hockey. We were really proud to call her our daughter.
It started as just another normal day, although thinking about it maybe it wasn’t. I normally shouted Olivia to get up for school but this day I thankfully went up to her bedroom to wake her up, and as she left for school she shouted upstairs that she loved me and she’d see me later………if only.
At around 10.10am I received a call on my mobile, but because I was in a meeting I just cut it off. Then a colleague’s mobile who I was with started to ring and she went outside to answer it. She then shouted for me to come – it was work saying that school had phoned to say Olivia had collapsed at school, an ambulance had been called and they were trying to resuscitate her.
These words didn’t mean anything to me but they obviously did to my colleague as we were in her car and on the way to hospital before I knew it. On the way I rang Olivia’s dad who said he would meet me at the hospital. On arrival at the hospital I went to the reception and as soon as I said who I was I realised then that my life would never be the same again.
I was lead into a private room and a nurse explained to me that Olivia had collapsed at school whilst playing a routine game of rounders. She asked if I would like to go into the room where all the staff were trying to save Olivia’s life – it was only afterwards that I knew they were doing that for me and her dad’s sake, as now I know they already knew we had lost our princess.
One of the worst things I have ever had to do in my life was to leave my baby Olivia at the hospital and go to the house that had once been our home. When we arrived home we went upstairs to her room and it was perfect just as she had left it, she loved her room and was a perfectionist.
Her room is still the same – we vacuum and polish it weekly and keep it just as Olivia did, perfect. It is and always will be Olivia’s room; I think that by doing this, is the only way we can cope and get through the days, it’s just crazy that we will never ever see her again.
Olivia had so much to live for. She loved going to town shopping, she was really into fashion or going to the cinema, having sleepovers – basically all the typical things that teenage girls do. The phone never stopped ringing and she was forever on the computer talking to her friends on MSN.
Olivia loved school, she always had, from playgroup to primary school, and then through to high school. At parents evening all the teachers always said that she was a model student and a pleasure to teach.
Liv was in year 9 and had just finished her SATS and had spent a lot of time choosing her options which she had put a lot of thought into – just like she did with everything she undertook. I know people say it all the time, “”my child’s this”” and “”my child’s that””, but hand on heart I can honestly say that my Olivia was such a loving, happy cheerful child that everyone loved.
We received lots of support from everyone; we were hurting and I knew that Olivia’s friends – some of whom had witnessed what happened – had also lost a very dear friend. The next few days just seemed to pass by in a blur; I think we were on autopilot.
The children from school placed lots of flowers, school ties, ribbons, cards and loads of messages around a tree that was in the centre of the school, there was a message book that turned into books and then folders as there was that many, for people to write their memories of Olivia in.
There were many websites set up for people to light candles and leave messages – it was clear that she was loved by so many people.
On the day of Olivia’s funeral I just wanted to make her as proud of me as I was of her. I wanted everything to be perfect. We had a service in church which was so full that people had to pray in the car park.
I was, and I am, so proud of Olivia and hearing all the readings and stories from her friends and just to see how many people loved her and really knew her, we asked all her friends to wear their own clothes but to wear something pink as it was Liv’s favourite colour, even the boys wore pink t-shirts and pearls on their wrists.
After the funeral, members of our family and friends of Olivia’s released 14 pink balloons, 1 for each year of her life. We all wrote a message and attached it to the balloons which we let go at the cemetery so they could make their way to heaven for Olivia to read.
After the funeral and the mass in school, the children wanted to have a lasting memorial that was fitting to Olivia. It was decided that a wrought iron tree with items that meant something to Olivia and what Olivia meant to us, was a fitting tribute. However, we were quoted around £6,000 – I thought we might as well give up there and then. But no, her friends had other ideas.
They put all their efforts in raising the money (I think it gave them strength as it did me). There were lots of events in school such as making pink ribbons and selling them – and to this day I still see people wearing them which is a constant reminder that she will never ever be forgotten – a sponsored football match, a bike ride, the list goes on forever. We also had an auction and some of the prizes donated were just amazing – so amazing that we raised a total of £14,000. Once we had paid for the tree the money we had left – which is £6,000 – we have donated to CRY.
As well as the tree, Liv’s high school have dedicated an award named the Olivia Raby Sporting Star Award, so at presentation evening a year 9 girl will be awarded the trophy, for their effort in sports.
The primary school that she attended have also done the same, so that Olivia’s memory will live forever.
Although a year has gone by since that terrible, horrible, life changing day, there is not a second of a day that I don’t think about my baby and what I have lost. I have to carry on, but wish I didn’t have to; my life is just a living hell.
I still get strength from Olivia’s friends, who keep in touch and that means a lot as I know they have, and never will, forget their best friend.
You just take for granted that when you have a child they are yours forever, but it just wasn’t meant to be. She wasn’t just my daughter she was my best friend.
I am just so very very grateful that I have 14 wonderful years of memories that will last my lifetime and that is the only thing that keeps me going through each day. Until we meet again, sweet dreams princess, we love you always and forever.
Mum, Dad and Family xxx