A Journey in Grief: Tributes to my daughter Mia and her incredible life

Rosie Ayliffe
Saturday 03 September 2016 18:00
The balloons released at Mia's ceremony
The balloons released at Mia's ceremony

Mia Ayliffe-Chung is the 21-year-old British backpacker who was stabbed to death in Australia at the hostel she was staying in.

Mia, from Wirksworth in Derbyshire, was working on a farm in Queensland in order to fulfil requirements for her Australian visa.

Mia’s mother Rosie has written a blog every day in The Independent over the past week as she travelled to Australia to collect her daughter’s ashes.

Here, in their own words, the people who knew Mia pay tribute to her life.

Mia’s family is raising money to create a fund for charity in her memory. Click here to donate or find out more.


My family and friends are all in awe of the wonderful youngsters in Surfers Paradise and at Bond University, where Mia began her backpacking experiences of Australian workplaces, as a dinner lady, as she described herself. She was much loved at Bond and the chef once said, “they don't come here for my food Mia, they come to see you!”

Her work at Bedroom was ostensibly more glamorous, but the people she met there were as down-to-earth and capable as I could wish for her to meet.

Their incredible ingenuity to crowd fund her funeral, then arrange such touching gestures as the speeches extracted below, a slide-show and balloon launch, touched all of Mia's family and southern hemisphere friends.

We were also moved that Chris Porter, Mia's travel companion and friend, who was also injured on that tragic day, could make the journey to be with us despite being on crutches.

Unfortunately, Les Jackson, the father of Tom Jackson who was tragically killed along with Mia, could not be with us, but he is hoping to attend Mia's commemorative ceremony in the UK.

Representatives from the Australian High Commission and consulate attended and laid wreaths, and have since conveyed condolences from Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who has apparently been following Mia's story closely in the press. Rest in peace my lovely girl, you are sorely missed by so many people.

Jamison Stead, Mia's boyfriend in Australia

Life's too short to be doing things that don't make you happy, take a risk and enjoy the little things. On one of our first dates I skipped work, went and picked her up and we went to Currumbin Rock pools and bathed in the sun, relaxed in the water and then did some bush bashing. She asked if there were spiders and snakes. I told her there weren't any, when really there were spider webs everywhere with a few spiders in them, but she didn't see. If I hadn't taken the risk to skip work I wouldn't have had some of my most cherished moments with Mia.

Rachel Jackson, a family friend

Mia had spread her wings with characteristic dry humour, contagious smile and particular courage and it sounds as though she carried her gift of unfettered joy with her as she travelled. She was stronger than she knew. More deeply beautiful than a camera could capture. More grounded and rich in wisdom than many with years of experience. My father would say she was “happy in her own skin” - and it would have been the greatest compliment he could bestow.

Mia lived her life to the full and her loss will leave an empty space in all who met her. Please fill that space with love and the fondest of memories...not with regret, or blame, or anger. Please do the inadequate and impossible things that give strength to those around you and gift the respect and peace to her family that she would want for them. For Mia. For Rosie. For us all.

I loved her. I miss her. Goodbye beautiful lady.

Sam Gostelow, a colleague at Bedroom Nightclub

She'd be the ear you could confide in, the shoulder you could cry on if you needed. You didn't really hear Mia talk about herself. She was always more interested to hear others, and how they are.

So how do we live life now without Mia? There is without a doubt a hole in everyone's lives: she was the kind-hearted happy girl from the Midlands who in a second could become this incredibly tough, strong and decisive young woman who had found herself through spreading her wings and embracing more of the world than she could have known. That is what we have to hold on to. That is how we live on through this. Allow Mia's life to be a lesson to us all. She lived without limits, without regrets.

Mia had a trait you don’t see these days with as much sincerity: that she genuinely cared for the people in her life, she loved children and said that would always be her future.

Jesse Tahwi, a close friend, colleague and confidante:

I first met Mia at work, in Bedroom. I was in the bar, and in the corner of my eye I saw a little person struggling to hold a tray up in the air. I walked over and asked if she was ok as I giggled. She turned around with that great big cheeky smile of hers and said: “Hello, I'm Mia.”

She had such a strong presence about her and I felt instantly drawn to her.

For me, I think confidence was the root of the many attractive qualities Mia had. Her sense of humour, her willingness to be who she was, no matter what anyone said or thought. She was caring, feisty, passionate and opinionated, yet very wise for her age.

She always carried herself so well and this is so rare to see in young girls, so it is one of the many reasons why I admired her.

In honour of her, I will always keep Mia in my heart and live life as she did. To the absolute fullest, having fun, being open and most importantly loving.

Chris Carr, Mia's science teacher

I actually do still remember her arrival in an already established class. And she shone instantly. I teach hundreds of kids and only a few really connect. And only a tiny few connect like Mia. So it wasn't me or my style, it was Mia that was open, bright and responsive.

Jordyn Barakin, Mia's room mate and colleague

She was strongly independent, free-spirited, fierce and always gave off a vibrant glow.

We all loved her stupid humour that would make us laugh so hard. We all loved her weird funny facial expressions that she would pull in almost every photo, as well as all the crazy Snapchats of her on nights out where she's being an absolute goose.

And for me, it was when she was just mucking around the apartment like an idiot but yet bringing so much joy and energy into our home.

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