Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a “a beautiful and vivacious” young woman who has died after being struck down by a degenerative brain condition.
Lizzie Bennett, 30, who had a cruel hereditary illness, Huntingdon’s Disease, passed away at Nightingale House Hospice in Wrexham last Saturday.
Her funeral will be held on Friday (October 18) at St Martin’s Church in Llay and following the service, Lizzie will be carried by a horse drawn carriage to Llay Cemetery.
The bearers will be six women relatives who will all wear pink ponchos.
Pink was Lizzie’s favourite colour and all the men have been asked to wear pink or brightly coloured ties.
Lizzie moved into Pendine Park’s Penybryn Care Home in Wrexham, which is a centre of excellence for brain injury and neurological care, in February 2018 after her mum, Kim James, could no longer cope with providing the 24-hour intensive care her daughter needed.
Her two brothers, Christopher, 37, and Jonathan, 32, both have Huntingdon’s Disease which has been described as Parkinson’s, Motor Neurone and Alzheimer’s all rolled into one.
Christopher is also resident of Penybryn while Jonathan is still, for the time being, able to live at home.
According to Kim, Lizzie’s smile lit up any room.
She said: “It’s such a horrible condition that robbed my daughter of her life and is slowly but surely doing the same to her brothers.
“Lizzie wasn’t diagnosed until she was 16. I didn’t know until I was heavily pregnant that the father of my children carried the Huntington gene as did his parents and grandparents.
“I have had to watch Lizzie’s life drain away. When she was younger, she was so beautiful and loved going on holiday to the Caribbean and America. She went to the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Jamaica and went to America 13 times.
“She was a pupil of Llay primary school and Castel Alun High School. She was never a naughty child and never gave me a moment’s trouble.
“The last time she went to Florida was in 2017. We went against all professional advice but she just loved it so much.
“She got tired but was so excited and had such a great time. I’m so glad Ian, my husband and Lizzie’s stepdad, had that time with her. We will always have that memory. She loved it bless her.”
Kim added: “Lizzie’s brothers are devastated by her passing. Christopher is being cared for in Penybryn. He’s angry and frustrated and devastated to have lost his sister.
“Jonathan is still at home and is very quiet but deeply upset and devastated. We are keeping a close eye on him and pulling together as a family.”
“On Friday, the cortege will start from Lizzie grandparent’s home in Bradley as she used to love going there. Her granddad Tony Cross, my dad, was a huge part of her life and would visit her most days at Pendine Park.
“It’s so horrible having to deal with the death of your only daughter from such a horrible illness. I can’t praise the Pendine Park staff enough for their love and support since Lizzie joined Christopher as a resident. They have always been fantastic.”
Kim’s husband, Ian James, who has been Christopher, Jonathan and Lizzie’s stepfather for more than 25 years, said: “Lizzie was such a beautiful girl and we are devastated to have lost her to this cruel and horrible disease. Every night Kim would Facetime Lizzie to say goodnight. The carers would hold the iPad close to her so she could see her mum.”
Penybryn manager Tracey Cuthill says Lizzie will be missed by everyone at the home.
She said: “She could light up any room with her smile. She never complained. She is going to be very much missed by everyone here at Pendine Park.
“Lizzie was particularly fond of Daisy, a little Bichon Frise that belongs to Gill Hughes our regulation and compliance manager here at Pendine Park.
“Lizzie’s face would light up and her eyes sparkle whenever Daisy jumped up onto her bed and made a fuss of her. Lizzie adored her and would giggle when Daisy tickled her feet.”
She added: “Huntington’s is a terrible disease and, although she could no longer move independently, speak or even swallow, Lizzie was fully aware of what was going on around her right up until the end. There is a new star shining brightly in heaven.”