Ipswich: Tributes paid to ‘brave’ and ‘inspirational’ Dawn Garrett

Dawn Garrett with her son Ashton, who went up on stage and bravely collected the award in his mum's

Dawn Garrett with her son Ashton, who went up on stage and bravely collected the award in his mum's honour - Credit: Archant

A selfless, generous and inspiring woman – one in a million.

The family of Dawn Garrett today described the 37-year-old as the “backbone of the family,” remembering her passion for life after the mother-of-one passed away on Thursday morning at St Elizabeth Hospice.

Dawn faced a lifetime battling illness with a bright smile on her face never whinging or feeling sorry for herself.

Instead the brave mother fought to live her short life to the full, for the sake of her nine-year-old son Ashton.

But four years after being diagnosed with cancer and two months after doctors said her condition was terminal, the disease claimed her life.

The former Springfield pupil and Westbourne Sports College student, slipped away on the 10th anniversary of her nan’s death.

Mum Janet, told The Star: “It was like she came down to take her away from all her suffering.”

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The 59-year-old added: “Dawn was the backbone of our family – she was one in a million.

“She was a brilliant mum, strict but so generous – not with material things but with her time and love.

“She spoilt him rotten in that way. Recently she was a woman on a mission – to make memories for Ashton. We are very proud of her.”

Ashton, who is a pupil at the school his mum once went to, will live with his grandparents, Janet and her husband Ted at the home Dawn grew up in, in Bramford Road.

Brother Christopher, 27, said as the baby of the family, his big sister “was like a mum” to him as they were growing up.

“I went everywhere with her,” he said. “I wanted to marry all her friends.

“She was like a mum to me, she looked after me, she was an inspiration.”

Dawn’s older brother Paul, 40, admired his sister’s determination and will to live.

“Three years ago, doctors estimated Dawn had a year-and-a-half to live,” he said. “It’s not that she didn’t love us, she did, but Ashton was the reason she fought so hard.

“He was her motivation in everything she did.

“Despite how ill Dawn has been, and how Ashton has struggled with his diabetes – he was diagnosed at the age of two and a half – they lived a normal life, a better than normal life, they really did live life to the full.

“She was determined to make the most of the time she had, she was young but she filled every minute with fun.

“She had an infectious personality.”

Paul’s wife, Rachel added: “Dawn took a lot of pride in her appearance, she was always immaculately dressed from head to toe, with beautiful clothes and matching accessories.

“Her hair was always cut really funky with bright colours which matched her personality so well. She really was the life and soul of everything, always laughing and joking and making sure everyone else was having fun and enjoying themselves.

“The Garrett family as a whole are so warm and welcoming. They would do anything for anyone, nothing’s ever too much. They all have a great sense of humour even through the hard times and really support each other, they really are such a tight family and that’s exactly how Dawn was too.”

The family thanked all the staff at St Elizabeth Hospice and doctors and nurses at Ipswich Hospital for their care and support to the whole family.

Mrs Garrett said: “The hospice has been amazing, so too have the doctors and nurses at Ipswich Hospital – they were more than just her doctors, they were became her friends.”

A memory box, which Dawn started to create for her son, will now be finished off by staff at St Elizabeth Hospice.

Dawn is survived by her nine-year-old son Ashton, parents Janet and Ted, brothers Paul and Chris, sister-in-law Rachel and nephew Callum.

A true star of Suffolk

Dawn Garrett was determined to help others.

Despite her illness the 37-year-old refused to sit back, instead throwing all her efforts into raising money for the Woolverstone Wish appeal.

Towards the end of her life, mum Janet Garrett said her daughter had pledged to raise money for St Elizabeth Hospice too, as recognition of the care they gave her and her family.

Dawn’s selfless determination and courage sparked a flurry of nominations for this year’s Stars of Suffolk awards.

Speaking to The Star just a week before her death Dawn said she was “overwhelmed and embarrassed” at being nominated.

“I am really shocked,” she said. “Being nominated makes me feel a bit special but I don’t think I am.

“When I set out to raise money for the Woolverstone Wish all I wanted was to help one person. If I can help one person face their cancer treatment in more comfortable and private surroundings on the ward, it will all be worth it. Refurbishing the ward will make such a difference to future patients, and if I can be a part of that, it is a pretty great legacy to leave behind.”

Among the reasons given by members of the public nominating Dawn were:

– Dawn is an inspiration to us all, she is everybody’s hero.

– She always puts others before herself. She is an inspiration to all of us, truly amazing x

– For showing true courage and strength to be selfless and raise charity money – whilst still being a fabulous and dedicated mum and smiling throughout it all! What an inspirational lady.

– Dawn is a true inspiration to every that she meets. She has had many illnesses but still manages to stay positive. She gives so much more than she takes. A fantastic friend to have by your side. She so deserves this award for everything she is trying to do to help other people with cancer.

– Heroine; fighting illnesses, providing an example to us all, raising money for Woolverstone Wish. All this and looking after little Ashton as well.

To donate to the Woolverstone Wish in Dawn’s memory visit www.justgiving.com/Dawn-Garrett