Lives Remembered: Flo Foster

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The Independent Online

Carolyn Foster, known to friends and family as Flo, or Ti, who died in her sleep from a blood clot on 7 October 2010 at the age of 45, was a committed community arts and health activist whose humour, humanity and knowledge literally transformed people's lives. As a health trainer for the Brighton & Hove Healthy Living Centre, she passed on her culinary skills and passion for good food to people in some of the most deprived areas of East Brighton, helping them tackle smoking and obesity and other behavioural issues. Always one for practising what she preached, she grew her own food on an allotment and had an ability to turn a bag of broad beans into a culinary feast.

She also worked for the Brighton & Hove Cancer Prevention Team, using her community connections andcommunications skills to overcome people's embarrassment about cervical, bowel and breast cancer. Many more people were tested for cancer as a result.

She spent her childhood on a farm in Scholar Green, Staffordshire and went to Manchester University, where she became involved in the Madchester music scene and led a bohemian lifestyle, living in shared houses with artists, musicians, actors, writers and street performers through which she gained an extended and loyal family of friends.

She did a postgrad course incommunity arts, which led to workat START, an arts project for adults with mental health issues in Manchester, and Walk the Plank, a boat-based theatre group in Salford Quays.Her involvement in theatre andentertainment took her across the country and abroad to Australia before settling in Brighton, where she honed her impromptu outbursts of singing by joining the Wham Jam women's choir.

She approached life like someone living on borrowed time. As a child she had a disease, nephritis, which weakened her kidneys, a problem that recurred later when she suffered kidney failure. Unable to find a suitable donor, she had to wait five years for a transplant. She dealt with the pain and incapacity of dialysis with stoicism, good humour (mostly) and praise for the NHS doctors and nurses whose care she greatly appreciated.

She was universally loved by the hundreds of friends, family and colleagues, one of her unsung skills being her ability to bring people together, making connections that led to creative and artistic collaborations, work partnerships and relationships. Among the many tributes, people have spoken about her unconditional, non-judgemental attitude, her generosity of spirit, earthiness, sense of fun, beautiful smile, courage and ability to make people laugh in the face of adversity. One friend said, she "wore life like a comfortable cardigan".

She is survived by her partner Graeme, mother Pat, brother Nick and sister Nicola.

Petra Coveney

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