Parents of girl who died of brain aneurism aged 13 publish her private diaries


Friday 31 May 2013 10:17
Jemima Layzell, the 13-year-old schoolgirl who died from a brain aneurism, and whose parents have published her private diaries
Jemima Layzell, the 13-year-old schoolgirl who died from a brain aneurism, and whose parents have published her private diaries

The parents of a 13-year-old schoolgirl who died from a brain aneurism have published her private diaries.

Jemima Layzell collapsed suddenly at home in Horton in Somerset and later died in hospital having suffered a massive bleed on her brain in March last year.

She had previously expressed a wish for her organs to be donated and they were used to save the lives of eight others, as well as the sight of three people.

After her death, Jemima's parents Harvey, 44, and Sophy Layzell, 39, discovered her private diaries, which she started writing aged four, in her bedside cabinet.

Jemima had dreamed of becoming a writer when she grew up, so her parents decided to try to publish the diaries.

Her writing has now been made into a book, called The Draft, which has attracted praise from distinguished children's authors Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Morpurgo.

Mr Layzell, a photographer, said the family wanted to raise awareness of organ donation and children hearing voices through the book.

He said: "We are exceedingly proud seeing Jemima's own words in print especially as most of it has never been read during her lifetime.

"Sharing her private thoughts could be thought of as quite invasive but we decided to publish Jemima's diaries not just because she was so talented but also to raise awareness of such things as hearing voices.

"As a daughter she was diligent, conscientious and always strived to make us so proud. She was gifted creatively and enjoyed analysing and questioning the world around her.

"She loved playing make believe with her sister and her favourite thing was hanging out with her friends."

Jemima's sister, Amelia, 12, will receive half of profits from The Draft, with the rest going towards setting up a charitable trust in her name.

The teenager collapsed at home without warning during evening preparations for Mrs Layzell's 38th birthday party on March 10 last year.

She lost consciousness and was taken to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton in Somerset, and later transferred to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol.

Jemima, who attended Taunton School, died at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children at 4.28pm on March 14.

She had previously expressed a wish for her organs to be donated and they saved the lives of two five-year-old boys, a 14-year-old girl, a ten-month old boy, a three-and-a-half year old boy, two people aged 19 and 24, and a 40-year-old man.

Three people have also had their sight saved.

Jemima's book, The Draft, went on sale on May 21 - what would have been her 15th birthday.

It begins: "This diary belongs to Jemima Elizabeth Layzell. If I were a fairy I'd be called Lizzy Stardust."

The intimate diaries share her thoughts about love, friendship and the future - with her secret wish "for someone to really, really like me for who I am".

One extract reads: "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."

Mr Morpurgo, author of War Horse, said: "We all have our stories to tell. This is Jemima's first and last and because of that so important to all of us who read it now. This is her life."

Ms Wilson also said: "I think it's the most beautiful, touching, heart-breaking book. It must be devastating to lose such a wonderful, talented child, but clearly this precious book is one way that she will live on in everyone's hearts."

The Draft is available from Amazon and selected Waterstones stores.


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