Olivia Walmsley and her friend Olivia Staveley, both 16 years old, are due to complete a skydive on Saturday 31st August, in memory of their friend Megan Lee.
Megan tragically passed away, at just 15 years of age, after ordering a takeaway meal online which contained peanuts from the Royal Spice Indian in Lancashire. Since Megan died, her family and friends have worked tirelessly to raise awareness of Anaphylaxis and the work of the Anaphylaxis Campaign, the only UK charity operating solely for the growing numbers of people at risk from severe allergic reactions.
Here Olivia Walmsley tells the story of her friendship with Megan and the reason behind why she wants to take part in the skydive.
“When I was 12 years old, I decided I wanted to pursue my hobby of performing. There was a theatre, local to me, where React Academy of Theatre Arts was holding auditions for a junior production of ‘The Little Mermaid’ and I decided I wanted to go along. I was extremely nervous as I didn’t really know anyone and I’d never done anything like it before so I didn’t know what to expect. When I arrived, I hadn’t been there long at all when I met a quiet but lovely girl who introduced herself to me as Megan.
Time passed and I soon came to realise that Megan actually wasn’t all that quiet and was actually hilarious, crazy and silly but still of course lovely and kind. She made me feel so welcome and excited about taking part in the production. She made all my nerves disappear and helped me to realise my love of performing. As a result, I started to take classes at the theatre and joined the drama and musical theatre classes that Megan also attended.
Megan very quickly became a close and trusted friend of mine. We continued to do shows together at React Academy and I created some of my favourite memories that now I look back on and smile. Every minute of every rehearsal and performance was filled with laughter. As we began to grow up together, we became closer and closer and would meet every week before our drama class to get a milkshake from across the road. Without realising it, Megan became the friend I went to when I needed advice or when I had a problem or even just when I needed help with a dance routine we’d learnt together and she would always help, support and be there for me no matter what.
At the point when I felt Megan and myself were the closest we’d ever been I went to sleep one night expecting to see Megan the next day. I woke early the next morning with the news that on that night on New Year’s Eve (beginning the year 2017) Megan had eaten a meal from a takeaway and suffered an allergic reaction. The reaction was so severe that she was sent into an Anaphylactic shock from which she did not survive. In this moment, I felt my heart physically break and I could not believe this was happening and that I had lost my friend.
I continued to attend my classes and participate in the shows at React Academy but every time I stepped and still do step through the door to the theatre I wish she was there waiting for me; that we were about to go and create more amazing memories together but cruelly and tragically that can’t happen. I don’t want anyone else to feel the way I felt when I was told Megan had died.
Before Megan’s passing, I didn’t even know allergies could be life-threatening. I had no idea of the severity of an anaphylactic shock which is why I am making every effort I can to raise money and awareness of allergies and The Anaphylaxis Campaign. This time by pushing myself massively out of my comfort zone and doing something completely terrifying.
I will be skydiving out of a plane with my amazing friend Olivia Staveley who I am so glad is doing this skydive with me as I know I wouldn’t have the guts to do it alone. After the death of Megan, I do not think I could have coped without Olivia by me. She was and still is patient, understanding and supportive and helped me so much during the worst time of my life when I tried to cope with the horror of an unexpected death of a true friend and an amazing young lady. Olivia and I are going to do this skydive together for The Anaphylaxis Campaign, we are going to do it for Megan and we are going to do it for everyone else who suffers with the symptoms or the consequences of allergies”.
If you’d like to support the girls with their incredible skydive which will help raise awareness for the Anaphylaxis Campaign, you can donate via their JustGiving page.