Tributes to Amara Hemingway - the girl who lived her days to the full

Amara Hemingway with her boyfriend John Sagar
Amara Hemingway with her boyfriend John Sagar

A BRAVE girl who refused to let a dangerous condition rule her life died living her days to the full.

Amara Hemingway, from Southowram, was just 20 when she collapsed from a brain aneurysm in The Salvation bar in Halifax centre.

She was diagnosed with the aneurysm when she was a child but was adamant it would not affect her life.

Her parents, Craig and Beth, and sisters Pagon, Bliss and Danya, have paid tribute to their fun-loving, kind sister who packed as much into life as she could.

Bliss, 22, said: “It was as if she knew she had this ticking timebomb so she had to live life to the full.”

Danya, 18, added: “She didn’t let it affect her. She did everything everybody else did. She didn’t want to be a victim. She just got on with things and didn’t complain.”

Beth said; “She was willing to give whatever was needed and took very little in return.”

Pagon, 26, added: “Her condition made her more youthful than her peers because of her approach to life but it also made her older because she really understood the value of it.”

Amara was a student at St Catherine’s High School and worked at Southowram Farm Shop and Anthony James Hairdressers in Central Street, Halifax, and most recently Lloyds Banking Group.

She loved partying, hair, fashion and was an incessant reader.

She had recently moved in with her boyfriend, John Sagar, and was enjoying decorating their new home in Shelf.

Amara’s brain aneurysm was discovered when she was seven years old and because it was in her central lobe, doctors said it was inoperable.

It was found during tests carried out after she was told she had mid aortic syndrome - a rare condition diagnosed in only a handful of people across the world.

Her parents had taken her to doctors after realising she was developing differently to her sisters. They had to fight for the diagnosis, as for months the only thing tests showed was that she had high blood pressure.

It was a paediatrician who examined her on her last day of being monitored who realised she had no femural pulses, which eventually led to the diagnosis of mid aortic syndrome.

The family carried out extensive research into the condition, working with the British Heart Foundation, and set up a webiste to find and support any other people with it.

Amara helped with the website and was keen to reply to people herself.

Craig and Beth found the consultant who specialised in the surgery she needed to treat the mid aortic syndrome, and she travelled to London when she was 16.

The first operation - lastign eight hours - was only partly successful, and she had to undergo another - lasting nine hours - nine days later. This one was a total success, and her family say they saw her blossom as a result.

Her family said the operations left her with two wavy scars across her stomach, which she was proud of and joke with some people that they were the result of a shark attack.

They say they were overwhelmed by the number of people who turned out to pay tribute her at St Anne in the Grove Church in Southowram last Saturday for the funeral.

Hundreds filled the church, and many were unable to get inside the Cock and Bottle pub afterwards.

Craig, John, Bliss’s partner Neil and Pagon’s partner Jonny were pallbearers, wearing bubblegum pink ties, as Amara would have wanted.

Members of Whitehall Warriors rugby league squad, who John plays with, cancelled their game and turned up in their kit to pay their respects.

Pagon said; “All those people were there because they knew Amara and cared for her. So many people came up and said she had changed their outlook on life.”

The collection raised £1,400, and donations are still arriving while Lloyds Banking Group are fund raising in her memory. The family plan to split the money between the British Heart Foundation and the WWF to help pandas and chimps in honour of Amara’s nicknames “Panda Eyes” and “Chimp Cheeks”.

Amara’s family want to thank everyone who came to the funeral, Father Guy Jamieson, the florists, the funeral director and staff at the Cock and Bottle.

They also want to thank the Street Angels and police who tried to help Amara when she collapsed.