Born Louise Etherington 23rd September 2001

Adiemus, Songs of Sanctuary by Karl jenkins.

Louise made a dramatic entry to this world on Sunday 23rd September 2001 at Wycombe Hospital. At 30 hours old, she stopped breathing and was rushed down to the Special Care Baby Unit, where she started to have fits. It was 2 weeks before she was allowed home. This dramatic start to life should have warned every one of the impact she would have on their lives.

She was born with Moebius syndrome, a rare genetic defect which affects the cranial nerves. It presented as a palsy to the right side of her face. It affected how she could eat and affected her speech. She underwent 2 major operations one at 5yrs old the other at 8yrs old. This 2-part operation was an attempt to even up her smile, which worked to a degree.

At infant school, she was a bright cheery person who loved to learn. She was described by many teachers as "A bit of a chatterbox". Those who know her, know just how she could talk (just like her mother). She was eager to take part in the Energise production of the Bluebird at Wycombe Swan, and worked hard to learn all the songs. As the curtains opened for the second half, there she was, centre stage right at the front. This was the start of her love of theatre, singing, dance and drama. (or was it; think back to her entry to this world). She went on to take part in at least one Wycombe Youth Theatre production a year, even getting a mention in the local press for her part in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

At the Acience Museum

Look for me in Rainbows - Conn Bernard 1990

Time for me to go now, I won't say goodbye;
Look for me in rainbows, way up in the sky.
In the morning sunrise when all the world is new,
Just look for me and love me, as you know I loved you.

Time for me to leave you, I won't say goodbye;
Look for me in rainbows, high up in the sky.
In the evening sunset, when all the world is through,
Just look for me and love me, and I'll be close to you.

It won't be forever, the day will come and then
My loving arms will hold you, when we meet again.

Time for us to part now, we won't say goodbye;
Look for me in rainbows, shining in the sky.
Every waking moment, and all your whole life through
Just look for me and love me, as you know I loved you.

Just wish me to be near you,
And I'll be there with you.

Travel was always part of her life, when at just under 2 yrs old the family had a holiday in Crete, she was heartbroken at the end of the week, when she worked out she wouldn't be living there forever. Trips to France, Spain, Austria, New Zealand, Australia, America and Canada amongst others left her wanting to visit more places.

At the Airport

She was only 4 when her mother was diagnosed with cancer and over the next 6 years saw first-hand the effects of this awful disease. Her mother died just before her 11th birthday, and this had a profound effect on her. She became much quieter (as hard to believe as that is).

She was disappointed not to get an Owl on her 11th birthday, but had said that she would settle for Grammar School if she didn't get in to Hogwarts. Well, she got into Grammar School and there she met a great group of friends.

It was during her first year at grammar school that she came out as gay, and worried about telling her friends. However, when she did they just accepted it without a second thought and were a wonderful support for her.

The following year, after some counselling he came out to family as Transgender, and expressed a preference to be known as Leo Alex, Again the friendship group were there to support him, indeed they knew him as Alex before the family did.

Leo thrived academically at Wycombe High School, and wanted to go on and study medicine at Oxbridge. The school however taught much more than the subjects. He joined the choir and went on the annual music tours. Getting to Sing at Carnegie Hall in New York was the pinnacle of his short time with us. He learnt the Cello and taught himself to play the piano and ukulele. He often found he couldn’t do all he wanted, due clashes between all the clubs he wanted attend. Many at school benefitted from his love of baking.He would often come home and say he wanted to bake, and would take over the kitchen to make muffins, biscuits or cakes, often brightly coloured ones, such as the large rainbow cake for the GSA club. Although those at school benefitted, those at home were often left with only the washing up.

Leo loved musical theatre and asked for the next piece of music to be played. It is from the Broadway show Dear Evan Hanson.

Dissappear, Dear Evan Hanson,

;

It took about a year before the GP's referral to the Gender Identity Development Service in London came through, and Leo was so happy that day. The first appointment was in April 2017 and he was looking forward to the next meeting. Despite this, Leo struggled with his social anxiety and relationships and was worried what others thought of him. He finally took his own life rather than spend the rest of his life feeling there was no place in the world for those like himself.

It is important for us to remember Leo, not as a troubled teenager, but rather look at the joy he brought in to this world. He could hold his own in political and topical discussions, his bright inquisitive mind often asking really telling questions. He loved reading, especially Harry Potter. Remember his sense of adventure in trying sports such as Canoeing, Ice skating, Zip Wires and climbing. He was passionate about Anime, and TV series such as Doctor Who, Sherlock, Agents of Shield, and films such as the Marvel movies and of course Harry Potter.

Skiing in France Feb 2016

These words from the 18th century Quaker Stephen Grellet, I feel was the code by which Leo seemed to naturally follow.

I expect to pass through this world but once.
Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now.
Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

Whether we remember Louise or Alex or Leo I hope we can do so with a smile or even laugh at some of the things said or done. If all else fails remember the laugh, it was unique, but you couldn’t help smiling when you heard it.

Hedwigs Theme, by John Williams

Died Leo Alex Etherington 31st May 2017

For more information about the various organisations important to Leo click on the logos:

Changing Faces
Gender Identity Development Service
Moebius Syndrome