A YOUNG epilepsy sufferer, who recently realised her dream of living independently, has suddenly died following a severe seizure.
Lara Weston, who had just celebrated her 22nd birthday, collapsed at her parents’ Hursley home, where she had lived her whole life.
Two months ago she had moved into an annexe above the garage – a significant, empowering move which coincided with her starting a business management apprenticeship at Eastleigh College.
Sister Polly, 26, said: “The last thing she did was get up in her flat to go to do her job – and that’s important as it wasn’t always possible for her.
“Lara was functioning in terms of having her own life. Everything had been coming together for her, she was so enthused. She was really brave, really tough.”
Lara May Weston was born with epilepsy, which increased in severity after she turned eight.
She attended the John Keble Primary School in Hursley, Hampshire Collegiate School, then Peter Symonds sixth form college, in Winchester.
A warm, quiet and modest youngster, Lara enjoyed years of Stagecoach drama lessons in Chandler’s Ford, once singing and dancing on Blue Peter, for which she earned one of the BBC children’s programme’s coveted badges.
Parents Emma and Murray Weston introduced their daughters to skiing at a young age, learning the hard way on the first sortie, on the first day of their first trip the importance of attaching your own skis before attending to your children’s.
Murray clipped in four-year-old Lara, then all three watched startled as she sped off down the slope shouting “Heeeeeeeeeeeelp!”, with none of them able to follow her.
The close-knit family have always relished each other’s company.
“Lara’s favourite thing was to tease her father, she had the sharpest sense of humour of any of us,” said Polly.
All three want to pay tribute to NHS nurse Kim Morley, the only one in the country to specialise in women’s health and epilepsy, for the years of unstinting support she gave to Lara.
Recently Lara added a Shetland to the family’s stable of horses next to their home.
While living in the annexe she would hail the pony from a first floor window and Suzie would snort a greeting in reply.
Such was the pair’s mutual devotion that the diminutive equine now determinedly declines to be caught by anyone else.
Last month Lara marked her 22nd birthday with three days of celebrations, drinking champagne, going greyhound racing and visiting Thorpe Park with friends.
Among them was Pippa Miller, from Kings Worthy, who met Lara on their first day at Peter Symonds in 2009.
They clicked instantly.
“It was like I’d known her all my life, she was absolutely lovely – and fiercely loyal” said Pippa.
“Lara could strike up a conversation with anyone, and was never fake. She didn’t let her epilepsy rule her life but it did get her down. It annoyed her because it’s such an isolating, restrictive disorder.
“But she just moved on. She was as stubborn as hell.”
When Pippa received her degree results for her Human Biology degree just days ago, Lara was one of the first people she hugged.
“I’m so glad I shared one of the best moments of my life with her. I will miss Lara terribly and feel very privileged to have known her,” she said.
Following Lara’s death, the Weston family gave consent for her organs to be donated for transplants, a decision they feel she would have been proud of.
They have also set up an online charity page in her memory to fundraise for Epilepsy Research UK. The site is justgiving.com/ laramayweston.
Lara's funeral was held on July 7.
“She’s still very much part of our family, she’s just not with us,” said Mr Weston.