Farewell, beautiful soul

Post 26: Claire pays tribute to brilliant colleague, stalwart of Falcon Windsor parties and kindest of friends, Andrea Colvile

Alexander Colvile has – and probably always will have – the distinction of being the youngest ever guest at a Falcon Windsor party. Those who came to the 2018 extravaganza last November may remember wondering if I’d gone on maternity leave without anyone noticing because I spent a good part of the evening showing off a beautiful – and beautifully behaved (a model for party guests?!) – very small baby.

But they soon discovered that Alexander’s nature was none of my doing. Rather, he was already showing signs of taking after his equally beautiful mother Andrea, a stalwart of Falcon Windsor parties who, despite having given birth only two months previously and also having four-year-old Edward at home, felt she couldn’t possibly let the side down. Since party attendance would cut across Alexander’s feeding time, Andrea’s solution was simple. He came too, along with father Rob, a more recent, but no less loyal, member of the FW party crowd.

This kind of can-do friendship was typical of Andrea. We first became friends more than ten years ago, thanks to her closest friend Mark Forsyth, but she later became a colleague too, being an account handler at Maitland financial PR before moving into market research at Barclays. And it must be said that Andrea loved a party! Many a discussion about which frock should be worn to which corporate event took place over the years, along with our other friend and colleague, Laura Humble. Not forgetting, of course, the shoes, which, as all you lady readers will know (and perhaps even some gentlemen too), are what make a glamorous outfit. And Andrea’s outfits were invariably glamorous – even so soon after Alexander’s birth, when anyone could be forgiven a more ‘comfortable’ look.

I’m sorry to say that the 2018 Falcon Windsor party was our last with Andrea. Earlier this year she was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis, and, despite an incredibly brave fight and amazing care from her doctors, she died in hospital on Sunday 7 July. I had visited her a number of times, from March when she was on the ordinary ward at Chelsea & Westminster, to her final bed at King’s, and I was struck throughout by her unquenchable spirit – her bravery, her unflagging interest in the lives and loves of her friends while her own world was shrinking, and her very deep love for Rob, the boys and her family.

Four days after she died, Rob, a match for Andrea in bravery as in so many other things, set up a fund through JustGiving for research into autoimmune liver disease, with a target of £100,000. Four weeks later, just three days ago, he wrote an article in The Sunday Times to spread the word. The least I could do was to spread the word too. At the time of writing, the fund sits at £62,000, so please do consider helping Rob hit the target.

The last thing Andrea said to me, after an afternoon spent painting toenails, doing her exercises, and singing her favourite hymns, was ‘you’re so very cheering’. The last thing I said to her, after an afternoon spent chatting with her family and singing her favourite hymns around her bedside when she could hear us but couldn’t speak, was ‘God bless you, dearest Andrea.’

I will treasure her last words to me and the privilege of being able to contribute something to her last days for the rest of my life.

Farewell, beautiful soul.

Those links again:

Help fund the Andrea Colvile prize for research into autoimmune liver disease by donating here.

Read Rob’s article in The Sunday Times here.

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