Harpenden grandmother pays tribute to granddaughter drowned by freak wave

Alice Barnett

Alice Barnett - Credit: Archant

A distraught grandmother has paid tribute to her “wonderful” granddaughter, a charity volunteer who tragically drowned in South Africa just four days before she was due to return home.

Alice Barnett, 19, was one of two British charity volunteers who died on December 4 after being overpowered by a freak wave while swimming at a beach.

Fellow volunteer Summer Robertson, 21, also drowned in the strong currents.

Pat Knight (formerly Gee), a well-known former teacher in St Albans and Harpenden, has contacted the Herts Advertiser on behalf of Alice’s family to pay tribute to the kind-hearted teenager, who lived in Hertfordshire.

Ms Knight said: “It is with heart-breaking sadness that I write to tell you of my wonderful granddaughter Alice who died in South Africa when she was doing voluntary service.”

Alice had been helping troubled and underprivileged young people at the Human Dignity Centre through youth development charity Lattitude Global Volunteering, which provides overseas placements for 17-25 year olds.

The teenager did similar voluntary work in Cambodia last year, at the Future of Khmer Children Organisation which provides free education and primary health care education to youngsters.

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Ms Knight said: “She wanted to do so much to make the world a better place and did so for so many in her short life.

“Alice really wanted to help the world. It would have been her life’s work.”

Ms Knight has lived in Harpenden for over 50 years and all of her children, and most of her grandchildren, have attended schools in the town including St George’s.

Locals have been asked to help continue her granddaughter’s efforts in helping others by donating to a fundraising page set up in Alice’s memory.

Almost £3,500 has already been donated from all over the world for both projects in Cambodia and South Africa.

On the justgiving page set up to take donations for both causes, Alice’s family have said that all funds raised will go towards, “creating positive change for the gorgeous young people supported by these two amazing projects, helping to build a better future for them and their communities – something she believed in so passionately.

“She was inspired by their strength of spirit in the face of extraordinary adversity, and now more than ever we are inspired by her.”

To donate and learn more about Alice’s work please see: www.justgiving.com/beautifulalice