Registered Charity number: 1163173
About Jemima Layzell
Who was Jemima?
Jemima Elizabeth Layzell was born on 21st May 1998 and died 14th March 2012 a few months before her 14th birthday. She was christened and buried at Horton Church that was built many years ago by her great grandfather. She and her sister are the first girls in a long line of Layzell boys who passed the family building firm down from father to son.
She grew up in Somerset and was our first child and eldest daughter. Her sister Amelia is two years younger and for the first 11 years of her life Amelia had an older sibling to both champion and challenge her. We have so many lovely memories of them both playing together and one of my greatest fears is that as time rolls on those memories will fade and some of them will become lost altogether.
I was adopted, so Jemima’s birth was incredibly significant for me. For the first time, I could look at someone and find a family resemblance. She definitely had my nose and knees neither of which she took much pride in! At the time of her death she was just starting to feel confident with her lovely dark hair and olive skin, she really was so beautiful.
Conscientious and hard working, Jemima took pride in her school-work and particularly enjoyed the arts. She kept a diary of her hopes and dreams as well as day-to-day observations that she recorded in her book ‘The Draft’. After her death we were in total shock, we spent hours, reading and re-reading her diaries, looking for answers.
Her sudden death, from a burst aneurism in her brain, was so random and without explanation. We didn’t find answers but we did find huge comfort in making her dream to become an author come true. Her sad reflective prediction on Sunday 7th August 2011 helped motivate us, and sustained me for months as I painstakingly typed all her diary entries so that we could publish her one and only book;
‘I almost feel as though I will never live long enough to become an author, to be married and have a family.’
With help from the literary agent Caro Ness we received endorsements from two of her literary heroes, Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Morporgo. Their words of encouragement meant the world, and Michael continues to support us by judging our annual Creative Writing Competition and by being our much admired Patron.
Owing to the circumstances of her death Jemima was in the rare but privileged position to donate her organs. There were days when we thought she would survive. If she had lived she would have been severely disabled with loss of speech and the ability to communicate.
She wouldn’t have been able to write, and half her body was paralysed. If she had survived she would have needed intense therapy and special beds, chairs, and equipment. I often wonder if we would have hidden her away as the stigma surrounding brain injury is still so prevalent.
Or would we have been brave and out spoken about her trauma? Our mission today is to bring as much love and support to children with brain injury, their lives have been turned upsidedown and Jemima would want us to help.
Monday 8th August 2011
‘Some people say that God can’t exist because if he did he would help all the poor people in the world.
I object to that. I feel their despair but WE have to help them. They are there because we did this to them. They are there because we have a wrong to right. They are there to stop us from turning into complete monsters before it’s too late.’
Jemima was right, she will never have a family of her own, but through her organ donation legacy she lives on. She has started her own little family tree that we are incredibly proud of.
She donated all her major organs and saved the lives of 5 children and 3 adults and restored the sight of 3. Inspired by Jemima and her favourite motto, we encourage everyone to ‘Live Love Laugh’ through our Be Love and Be Life campaigns.
Jemima’s death was documented by several news papers at the time. To learn more about her collapse and brain stem death please follow this link.