It was with great sadness that we heard news of the death from cancer of Naomi White (née Leaton, Brereton 1984 – 90.) Naomi was in one of the earliest and largest cohorts of girls to enter West Buckland and soon established herself as the brightest, ablest and most talented of pupils.
Her contributions to all aspects of the life of the Brereton and the school were widespread and outstanding: she was leader of the orchestra, captain of netball, won full and half hockey colours, played tennis, running, was an officer in the Army section of the CCF, won bronze, silver and gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards and was the first female Head of School. Her academic achievements were impressive. She was in the first GCSE year -1987- and gained an impressive 10 subjects, all with the highest grades then went on to get 5 A levels It is to her immense credit that Naomi achieved so much at school when her personal circumstances were filled with such trauma and difficulty.
This exemplary courage was seen again in her long struggle against cancer. Having been in remission, the illness returned a couple of years ago. She impressed everyone in her circle with her amazingly positive attitude and her tremendous vitality. With huge appetite for life she embraced opportunities to share a range of exacting activities with her husband Paul and daughter Azhlina, including seeing Azhlina begin her studies at Aberystwyth university – something that made her wonderfully proud and happy.
Naomi died at the end of September and in true Naomi style was buried at sea off Southampton on Thursday 10th
October. Our thoughts are with her friends and her family, but particularly with Paul and Azhlina. May they soon find their sadness tempered with peace, having shared their lives with such a courageous and indomitable spirit. R.I.P.Paul Berry 77-01 S
It’s hard to tie such a free spirit down to words. She approached life with energy, enthusiasm, and a never say never approach. She fought her cancer with the same approach, refusing to give in to its encroachment as she walked up mountains, climbed rocks, freestyle co-steered, and gave to her friends all that she could give. She was a kind and generous, open minded and forgiving. After she left West Buckland, Naomi spent several years in Malaysia.
Whilst there, she married and had a daughter, Ahzlina. After returning to England, her priority was to ensure Ahzlina had a good education. She supported them both through this time by teaching and tutoring, around Aldershot where she lived. She had a 100% success rate with her students, who were no doubt amazed at the good fortune of having such a lively, intelligent and engaging teacher. After she died, many of them wrote to her family, to say what an amazing person she was, and as we all know, for a teenager to put pen to paper, they must have meant it.
The greatest joy that Naomi got from her life was being with those that she loved. Azhlina has been a constant source of pride and happiness for her, and for a while, it was just the two of them. Then Naomi met Paul. In Paul, she had found a true soul mate – someone to share her life and adventures with. Together they travelled around the country in their vans (one after the other they seemed to need replacing…), visiting beautiful places and doing amazing and wondrous things.
Nothing could stop their boundless sense of adventure – not even the awful side effects of chemo and radiotherapy which Naomi refused to let get her down. In all the time that she was suffering, she never complained, never bemoaned her situation, and never gave up. Naomi was a true inspiration to those who knew her, and will be sorely missed by many. Our thoughts go out to Paul, Ahzlina and the rest of Naomi’s family for their terrible loss.
The Macmillan Nurses who cared for Naomi were wonderful in the last week of her life, enabling her to die at home, surrounded by her family, which was her most important wish. If you would like to support the work that the Macmillan Nurses do, a just-giving page has been set up in her memory. www.justgiving.com/NaomiLeaton Anna Worthington 88-90 B