I am devastated to share with you the death of my gorgeous sister, Mary
Mary had been fighting breast cancer for nearly four years. Late last year, the cancer spread to her brain. Last weekend, Mary suffered a heart attack in hospital. She was revived but remained in a coma.
Mary did not regain consciousness. She passed away peacefully on Wednesday 18 January 2012 in a London hospital, aged 44 years and one month.
Mary leaves her loving husband and life partner of 20 years, Sam Sheppard, to raise their 5 year old son, Ned and 4 year old daughter, Lola, in their beautiful Hertfordshire home, The Ashwell Bury.
Mary was born 18 months after me and was a much loved older sister to our sisters, Anne and Jill.
My parents, Betty and Tony, raised a head-strong girl in a loving home who blossomed into a wonderful, free-spirited woman.
After gaining her Bachelor of Education at the University of Tasmania in 1989, Mary left Tasmania in search of adventure. After a year in Brazil she went to London where she accepted a job in the French ski resort town, Meribel. It was on this working holiday, in a resort café queue, that Mary met Sam.
Mary returned to England and was a primary school teacher in Brixton. In a short period of time Mary moved in with Sam, who lived in a house on his father’s farm. Mary and Sam were married in Colorado in 1996.
Mary held other teaching jobs before moving to the private sector to become an ICT teacher trainer. She proved to be a great success in this role and won her employer’s Project Manager of the Year Award in 2001 for, among other accomplishments, leading her ICT Teacher Training team to achieve the only unqualified ‘A’ grade audit status, awarded by the UK Teacher Training Authority, out of 64 national teaching service providers. Mary then progressed to become a nationally qualified school inspector.
When Mary became a mother, at the relatively late age of 38, it was a surprise and delight for all of us. Ned (born April 2006) and later, Lola (born December 2007), were her greatest accomplishments – two delightful children, whom she adored.
Even though Mary had a very full life in the UK, she always made time to return to Australia for a few weeks, almost every year to visit family and friends during the Australian summer.
After the pain of my marriage breakdown in 2002/2003, Mary wrote me a wonderfully uplifting and positive card that included the line, ‘Life is too short and too precious to be sad or miserable’. That line perfectly reflects who she was and how she lived her life.
Mary lived a wonderful life that touched so many people.
I will miss her deeply for the rest of my life.
Be peaceful, my precious sister.
Your loving brother, Ross.
If you would like to know more about breast cancer, or would like to help or make a donation to a breast cancer charity, the following websites provide a wide range of information: