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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Alice Pyne has taught us all how to live

We can learn a great deal from the all too short life of Cumbria’s exceptional Alice Pyne.

Alice Pyne  photo
Alice Pyne

The question is, of course... will we?

A young girl, given dreadful diagnosis of a cancer that would almost certainly claim her life, had every right – at the age of 12 – to retreat into self-pity and dark gloom.

But she did precisely the opposite. Alice moved up a gear in the business of living, kept a smile on her face, vowed to relish every minute and worked to give strength to others similarly blighted by life-threatening conditions.

She listed all the fun experiences she wanted under her belt before death claimed her – ticked them off her bucket list happily, raised £100,000 for charity into the bargain and humbled the powerful, famous and influential with her instinctive, sunny kindness.

Alice was 17 when she died at the weekend. Her mum Vicky described her as having gained her angel wings. She had certainly earned them – probably without realising how richly she’d deserved them.

Thousands of tributes were paid to this youngster on her passing. People she had never known or met felt her loss and knew she had left behind an empty space few others could ever hope to fill.

And there is one of the lessons we, who grumble and complain so routinely and regularly we embrace pessimism as second nature, should be learning from Alice.

This special girl knew the true value of a smile. She accepted optimism as the friend that would see her cheerfully through life – however short – and death.

She has taught that it is not the length of days that matter but what we make of our days that counts.

For those of us who have been at a distance from Alice, watching in amazed admiration as she inspired quietly and intuitively to be better than we are, it’s hard to shed tears for the passing she knew she would face.

Her loss will be deeply painful for her family and friends, of course. But they must know they have been privileged to have been close to an exceptional young woman, gifted with immense wisdom.

For our part, if memory of Alice Pyne’s uncompromising philosophy of eternal sunshine can hold us back from carping and sniping, criticising others – falsely believing it makes us seem clever – we will have learned something life-changing from her short but enlightening time with us.

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