Taranaki cathedral burial for girl

Last updated 09:26 18/09/2012
Taranaki Cathedral Dean Jamie Allen enjoys the sunshine at Back Beach this year with his daughter, Carrie.
QUALITY TIME: Taranaki Cathedral Dean Jamie Allen enjoys the sunshine at Back Beach this year with his daughter, Carrie. The 12-year-old died on Saturday.

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A young girl who touched the lives of many will be buried in the grounds of the historic Taranaki Cathedral.

Twelve-year-old Carrie Allen, the daughter of cathedral dean Jamie Allen and wife Suzy, died on Saturday after battling cancer for three years.

Only on rare occasions, since the graveyard at St Mary's was closed in 1861, has permission been granted for a burial there. The last was in 1935 although the spreading of ashes has been permitted of relatives of those interred pre-1861.

Permission was sought for Carrie because "the cathedral had captured her heart" and her "love and cheeky smile" meant the Allens shared her with many, her father said.

Carrie was diagnosed with a rare soft tissue cancer shortly before the family moved to New Plymouth in 2009.

Having grown up in England, Mr Allen says Carrie fully embraced her new life in Taranaki.

Carrie was a year 8 student at Devon Intermediate and as part of her honours programme organised a concert last month to raise funds for Child Cancer and CanTeen.

After meeting New Zealand singer Dave Dobbyn while receiving treatment at Starship children's hospital this year she put in a call to her "friend" asking him to sing at the concert.

Dobbyn and Carrie performed together to a crowd of more than 500 and raised $8000 for charity at "Carrie's Concert".

Yesterday, Dobbyn sent a message of support from Auckland.

"It's a pure delight to know Carrie," he said. "Her light shines bright and my heart is with the family in grief at her passing."

Mr Allen said his daughter was exhausted, on heavy pain relief and yet completely focused on completing her honours project five weeks ago.

"Her only reservation was over the naming of the concert.

"She would have preferred it was called anything else that would not pull the limelight on to her."

Carrie's bravery in the face of adversity was recognised when she received the Melissa Long Trophy in July.

The award was set up by Melissa's parents after she died after a battle with leukaemia.

In just three years living in New Zealand, Mr Allen said his daughter had captured the essence of being a Kiwi.

"She lost her English accent almost immediately.

"She loved New Zealand with a deep, deep passion," he said.

Carrie's talents were endless and only a few weeks ago she competed and won a prize in the Methanex Maths Spectacular.

"She loved to represent her school and when at home dealing with her cancer she would spend much time doing maths work online.

"She kept on coming to school until her fatigue and pain, which she covered up, were just too much to manage any more."

At that point she started a class blog so that she and others away sick or on holiday could stay in touch with their mates.

"She always utterly loved reading the messages and even when she was too ill to be able to read them herself we continued to read them aloud to her."

Mr Allen says Carrie was honoured to be voted in as academy leader and had such great plans. A talented dancer, singer and performer - a fund is being set up to start a drama group in Carrie's memory.

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A service will be held at Taranaki Cathedral at 11am on Friday and mourners are asked to wear pink or a CanTeen bandanna.

"The support and love our family has received from the community has been extraordinary during this journey and particularly over the last few days," Mr Allen said.

A service will be also be held in England at 11am on Friday at the family's former church, St Andrew's, in Great Cornard.

- Taranaki Daily News


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