17th April 2009  

written by Robert, Jasper and William

 read in St Mary's, Lower Swell, by Robert 


Fatty Foo Face, Gravy Groggins, Gorbachev, Guacamole, Slobadan, Big Girl, G-Unit, G-Rat, Ugly Fat Boy…these were just a few of the nicknames Grace had to endure growing up with her three loving older brothers. As with all big brothers, teasing was our divine right – we used to serenade her with love songs about Chinky, her first ever boyfriend, waft farts into her face while she was watching T.V., or creep into her room after dark pretending to be monsters. But Grace was tough. She would retaliate with an onslaught of slashing fingernails; pinching, scratching and squealing until we were all shouting for momma. But between the fights and the taunting, Grace smothered us with affection. She never let us doubt how much she loved us. Although we could be mean and impatient, we treasured her above everything.

This is probably the hardest thing we will ever have to do. To adequately express Grace’s warmth and tenderness and the magnitude of our love for her, or to even begin to do her justice in this small tribute, is impossible. Grace jammed so much into her 17 and a half years, we can’t even imagine how much more she could have gone on to achieve. She was beautiful inside and out and overflowing with life.

When Grace arrived on the scene it was extremely exciting. We three had reigned supreme in the Hadman family for a long time and the apparently sudden arrival of a baby girl was a matter of intense curiosity. Here was a sister - a wonderfully fascinating new toy who giggled and dribbled and spent most of the day being sick. She was magnificent.

Grace’s character shone through from the very start. As soon as she was able to crawl she was on the hunt for food - nothing could stop her, if you stood in her way she’d let off such a piercing scream that you’d be forced to give her whatever she wanted. With strangers though, her chief weapons were her limitless charm, brazen confidence and inordinately chubby cheeks. As a toddler on the beach in France she would waddle about from picnic to picnic, puffing out her rosy dimples in a cheeky grin that would unfailingly melt the hearts of every sunbather. They would pile food into Grace’s open arms and gaze at her adoringly as she chomped away, happy as can be. There were very few things that could have overcome Grace’s love of food, and language barriers proved no challenge whatsoever.

After food, sleeping was Grace’s greatest passion when she was little. Grace was much younger than the rest of us and, though in many ways our worlds revolved around her, she had to be (or insisted on being) amenable to what we were doing as well. She developed the ability to sleep just about anywhere. We’d go out for a meal and Grace would soon fall asleep- in a chair, under the table, even on the table! In fact, it seemed that the only place where she couldn’t sleep was in her own bed. Momma always said that Grace was 7 years old before she allowed her an uninterrupted night. This was partly due to her haphazard lifestyle and a genuine excess of energy, but it was also doubtless thanks to Jasper, whose insistence of talking of monsters and giving Grace a shock at every possible opportunity rendered her too scared to stay in her own room at night and meant that, whenever we were at home, she’d always sleep with us in one of our beds.

Grace was always massively popular. I suppose one of the main reasons for this was that she could make people laugh and loved to laugh at herself. Of her numerous talents as a young child, none, in our opinion, could beat the human fart pump. She would simply lie on her back while one of us stood over her with a foot resting lightly on her stomach. A gentle push of the foot and out would pop a loud fart and a burst of uncontrollable laughter. If Grace’s stomach was on form we could keep up a pretty steady beat or even pump out a bit of a tune.

Grace’s incredible Indian accent was another great source of amusement, especially when she was very young and lacked the ability to switch it on and off, even when she was visiting us in England. Having moved there at the age of three, India was Grace’s home for about a third of her life. She loved the country wholeheartedly and everyone there, from poppa’s colleagues to our local ironing man, loved her back.

While there, she adopted some Indian customs. For example, she insisted on eating her food with her fingers, joyously squishing the contents of her plate into a mushy paste, but this was probably more to irritate momma than anything else. She loved playing the role of the little Indian madam, screaming “Chalapati! Chalapati!” in her broad local accent, as she summoned our night watchman for another cycling lesson.

But there was so much more to Grace than fart pumps, snoozing and eating with her fingers. She was an amazing and dedicated swimmer. She could beat Jasper, who claims to be not too bad, at 50m freestyle aged 10 when he was 18. She also played hockey and netball, enduring embarrassing whoops from momma and tirades of thunderous encouragements from Poppa on the sidelines. She was an immensely creative person, a fantastic artist and blossoming actress. She launched herself into things undaunted by the chance of failure – that same confidence she showed as a toddler, waddling between strangers demanding snacks, never left her her whole life.

Grace was always very, very sociable. She loved people and seemed to make friends wherever she went. On family trips when we stopped in a restaurant, or even just at a petrol station, she would disappear and start chatting away to anyone she could find. Age didn’t matter, everyone warmed to her; she couldn’t help making people smile.

This continued right up to today. Whenever we went out as a family, she’d always end up chatting to whoever she thought most needed chatting to and was comfortable spending time with anyone, from 8 year olds to octogenarians .

At school Grace developed an amazing sense of love and loyalty. She never restricted herself and sought out friends of all ages and backgrounds within school and without. As she grew up so her network of friends expanded but the bonds she kept and continued to make always remained strong. She never wavered from her dedication to them and her family, just as she never wavered from her dedication to Top Shop. A quick glance at some of her photos from Teddies show how important her friends were to her - they gave her so much joy and she would do anything for them.

We brothers each had a different sort of relationship with Grace.

I was the grandpa: boring, often half watching telly while playing with her, always trying to adopt as lazy a role as possible but, at the same time, the one who would take her out for tea, the one she would wake up first on Christmas mornings (even over the last few years), the one on whose shoulders she would ride as we traipsed around American national parks or up hundreds of temple steps in Sri Lanka. I was the one who was least annoyed by Grace, the one she could punch without expecting a reaction but equally the one who was least reactive to her pleas to play.

Grace overtook Jasper in maturity around the age of 10. They were playmates, and Jasper was constantly inventing new games to force Grace into. A few times a day the space between our front door and staircase became the world’s one and only stadium dedicated to Jasper’s special version of Handball, special being the operative word. In time though, Grace became so big that she almost completely covered her goal, the first two steps of the staircase, making victory very difficult for Jasper and the game therefore quite redundant in his mind. Other games included Murder in the Dark, involving Jasper either sneaking up behind Grace or hiding in cupboards, ready to jump out when she was least expecting it, and sword fights in the garden, which basically consisted of Jasper battering Grace with a plastic cricket bat and then running away.

William was much more grown up; someone to come to for advice; and, in recent years, a genuine friend. As the two youngest they always had a strong bond which manifested itself in the quintessential love/hate relationship. William would always be the first family member Grace would contact whenever she was in trouble, usually to get an idea of what to expect from Momma and Poppa when they found out what she’d done – he had undoubtedly been in the same situation before. Advice about how to handle gating quickly developed into advice about life in general. The ‘hate’ side of their relationship, most likely borne out of plain old jealousy at being usurped as the youngest and cutest, all but fizzled out, although William’s sometimes overprotective attitude could still cause a little friction. Both being based in Oxford, they had recently spent a lot of time together; going out for drinks and dinner, sharing stories and mutual friends.

Although we saw ourselves adopting different roles for Grace, sometimes I think she saw us as one and the same being. Whenever we had a long way to drive it was always me who sat next to her right at the back of the car because I was the only one able to ignore her if she started winding us up. But whenever William or Jasper began teasing her, it would be me, the innocent bystander, who would get pinched and scratched and yelled at. She saw us all as a single entity so as long as she lashed out at one of us, usually just the nearest, she would have had her revenge. Grace used to say she was the only normal one but in actual fact she was just as weird as the rest of us.

Grace brought us together as a family, she made us whole. The family focused around her and she locked us in with her affection. But she wasn’t always perfect, and we certainly let her know it. Being the youngest and being Grace she definitely did get some special treatment. We often accused her of being spoilt, always whining that she got more than we ever did and threatening that she would be carted off to Brat Camp. But the truth is that being treated like a princess seemed to do her no harm whatsoever as she continued to grow into the warm, beautiful, generous, principled and inspiring young lady for whom we are all here today.

 We were sometimes overcritical, and didn’t try hard enough to understand her problems, but we were always immensely proud of her from the day she was born.

We were so proud of her when she was small. We used to absolutely love it when she came to visit us at school and we could show her off. She was the cutest little thing and all the girls would go crazy for her, doing no end of good for our own popularity. She was at the Dragon while I was at Oxford and I was always so proud to come round and watch her house entertainments, take her out for tea or show her off to my uni mates. I’d also often come to listen to her in the choir but, to be perfectly honest, was utterly perplexed by the fact that her singing skills did not somehow disqualify her.

As Grace grew, so did our pride in having such a wonderful sister. Later in life Grace became a beautiful, passionate, caring and enormously fun young woman. She always saw the good in everyone and everything and remained as doting a little sister as you could ever have hoped for. In spite of this, she was always saying sorry. She was constantly doing it, although most of the time she had no need to – sometimes she’d be apologising for apologising! By contrast, we never had to say sorry to her, no matter how terrible we had been. She was always so wonderfully patient and forgiving.

But we have never been more proud of her than we are today. The love that is felt for Grace is so clearly apparent and it is comforting that she was obviously so important to so many. The mass of touching personal tributes on Facebook; the beautiful shrine to Grace in St Edward’s chapel; the incredible support of her friends and family here today are all testament to the massive impact she had as a person.

To us three, she was a loving friend and someone we just wanted to show off as our sister.  We could have done so much more for her. We rarely put our love for her into words, never often enough, but she always told us how much she loved us.

We are so proud of you Grace, you were the most wonderful sister. Your life was so full and you gave so much love. You will always be our greatest inspiration.  





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