‘She was the best of people’ – in memory of Charlotte Fullerton

Polly Lamming pays tribute to her friend Charlotte Fullerton, who died in a tragic climbing accident in Nepal

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Photo: Polly Lamming

It is impossible to try and condense a character, a life and a soul into so short a piece. It hurts to do so and it feels wrong. But there is comfort in the fact that so Lottie Fullerton touched so many of our lives, that so many do not need me to tell them about her.

For Lottie was not someone you had to know, to know. She was not one of those tricky people you had to coax out of her shell to try and understand. She was not guarded or cold. She was the exact opposite. She was a friend to everyone at college. She had time for everyone. There is no one in Jesus who does not love and respect her. There is no one in Oxford’s sports world that does not smile when they think of her. There are no medics in our year who do not sing her praises.

There is a cruelty to this terrible accident that has left so many of us numb. Lottie and I met at the age of four, and swiftly became extremely close. As a young girl, she had more personality than the rest of our primary school class put together. Cheeky, intelligent, and absolutely hilarious, she had the kind of character you couldn’t resist.

My overriding memory of our time together is laughter. The kind of laughter that leaves you winded with your stomach aching. Delicious laughter that leaves you exhausted and in need of a lie down. Every memory contains this kind of joy. Her cheeky Cheshire cat grin, that spread from her eyes, and bubbled up as a torrent of laughter.

Of those fortnightly sleepovers with hot chocolate – marshmallows on top for you, marshmallow-free for me – the dance mat, and Top of the Pops. Of watching and re-watching the Harry Potter films, always fighting over which one because I loved no.4 because of Robert Pattinson and you thought it was boring. Of our joint birthday parties – Pick Your Own fruit and taking the whole class to Thorpe Park. Of your terrible terrible singing. Of playing with your gerbils Tom and Jerry – Lottie I really hated the way they used to poo on me, and you thought it was hilarious. Of dance routines on your trampoline in Dorset, and sailing lessons that I was useless at and you helping me learn my starboard from my port.

Of summer camp in the US, that was nothing like Parent Trap, where I hated the midges, the constant singing and praising the Lord and the food, but where you threw yourself into every activity, and made a ton of friends. Of St Lucia, where we got our hair braided during a monsoon and told everyone we were sisters. Of wearing matching flowery Mini Boden tops and telling people they were from Jigsaw (still the coolest shop in Richmond).

Writing this does not feel real. These are the words that are saved for weddings and christenings, for thirtieths and fiftieths. But, darling Lottie, you have been taken away from us and we are left in awe of what you have achieved in such a short time.

It is moments like these where we all turn to different sources of comfort. For some, there is religion, for others friends, family. For me, it is a combination of them all, but most of all I am taking comfort in our memories together. Because there are so many, Lottie, and I never told you how much you mattered. How much I loved those moments with you, and how much staying up till 11pm talking on a Friday night and howling with laughter, predictably being told to be quiet and go to sleep by our mothers, forms such a large part of my early life and my adolescence.

And so I will finish with a plea. If anyone reading this has a friend whom you have known for two decades and who you don’t see as much as you would like, but who you know will always be there for you, and will always be part of your life. If there is someone, who you don’t see everyday, but when you do see it is like nothing has changed. If there is someone who, however you are feeling, will listen, will understand, and will make you forget everything and just laugh and laugh. If there is someone who radiates warmth, strength, goodness and integrity, and if there is someone you respect and cherish so highly, then please just tell them. Just once.

Because, Lottie, I never told you. I don’t even know why – I guess I don’t really gush to my friends. I am going to start doing so now. Because now you are gone and I cant drag you to Handle Bar or TSK for a catch up over a coffee or some smashed avocado. We can’t go to GBK or Byron and you can’t laugh at me for thinking courgette fries are a healthy option. I cannot thrash you at Chase the Ace and you cannot thrash me at Perudo. We cannot bounce on your trampoline until we feel light headed and sick, and we cannot go on a long walk with Sammy the dog and pretend we are in an Enid Blyton book.

You were wonderful, and you have left us in your prime. I defy anyone to show me someone who has smashed Oxford more. The majority of us like our subjects, but work to get our two essays a week in and then we can do the fun bits. You have never been that person. You love medicine, and you are the kind of student Oxford is for. You have a love, a passion, a respect and a natural aptitude for your course, that is truly inspirational, and admired by your peers here, What is more, you couple this with an impressive extra curricular calendar, blues here and half-blues there, and a ton of friends. You have never missed a Wednesday Park End. You have lived life in these beautiful spires to the full.

I am fully aware that is piece is not grammatically sound. In part, I can blame my dyslexia. In the other part, I can blame the state I am in in knowing you are gone. For this is why the tenses are scrambled. My brain can’t compute that you are gone and that I don’t get to hear you laugh again, or your loud, joyful voice. I don’t get to see you rushing around Jesus, head to toe in blues stash, smiling. Always smiling.

You are wonderful. And I will miss you. And I know what your future would have been, because it would have been the same as it has been at Oxford, at Canford, at St Catherines and at The Old Vicarage. Rich with joy, success, inspirational. Surrounded by people who love you so much Lottie. But we have been denied the pleasure of sharing these times with you. And for that, I am truly sorry, and a little bit heartbroken.

What comfort is there to be sought, other than in the coming together and sharing of memories and grief? For me, I find two key sources. The first is that I know not of a happier unit than the Fullerton family. There is so much love, generosity and strength between them, that if any family can work through these terrible times, it is Alison, Andrew and Alex. My thoughts are with them, and their extended family during this time. And the other, is that Lottie was living life to the full. She had the boy. She had the blue(s). A first was well within her reach. She was wonderful, and we all know that Dr Fullerton would have been just as wonderful too.

No one knows why these things happen. But to me, it appears that it is always the best who are taken from us prematurely. Those who give others the most, and expect nothing in return. Those who offer kindness, strength and friendship to everyone.

These are qualities that cannot be learnt, but that are inherent to a person. To a good person. To the best people.

And Charlotte Fullerton was the best of people, and will always, always, be remembered as such.

 

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