Tributes following death of 21-year-old former St Albans woman

TRIBUTES have been paid to a “loving daughter and cherished sister” from St Albans who died from glandular fever earlier this month due to underlying health problems.

Natalie Dunks, 21, who grew up in Chiswell Green but moved to Paignton in Devon around five years ago, was taking immunosuppressant medication for Crohn’s Disease which left her unable to fight the virus and she died at Torbay Hospital on April 8.

Despite her condition, the former Killigrew and St Albans Girls School pupil, who lived in Corby Close before moving to the coast, led a very active life and has been described by many as a bubbly, fun-loving character.

She is survived by her parents Ann and Colin, sister Laura, grandparents Tony and Joan, and boyfriend Chris.

This week Natalie’s mum Ann paid tribute to her as a “loving daughter” with many hobbies and a love of animals, as well a dedicated charity worker who was affiliated to a variety of organisations.

She said: “She loved horse riding and photography and learnt how to take photographs from her father. She was taught to ride by Kim from the age of eight at Kim’s Equestrian.

“When Natalie moved to Devon, she did a course in animal care and became very interested in birds of prey. She bought herself a South African white-faced scops owl called Kahlan and was a member of Torbay Owls and Company.

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“Natalie and her boyfriend Chris got together in November 2010 and were a very happy couple. Unfortunately, Natalie became ill just before Valentine’s Day and went into hospital on March 1.

“She was diagnosed with glandular fever, but due to having no immune system as a result of the medication she was taking for her Crohn’s, she was unable to fight the virus and died on April 8 surrounded by her boyfriend, friends, and family.”

When she lived in St Albans, Natalie was an active member of the St Albans Leos Club (the youth version of Lions International) and volunteered with Mencap. When she moved to Devon Natalie volunteered with Christian charity Hand in Hand and became actively involved with the National Association for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease (NACC) in Torbay.

Natalie’s funeral was due to take place today (Thursday) in Torquay and her sister Laura is currently putting together a scrapbook in memory of her sister ahead of a “celebration of life” and is asking those who knew her to contribute photos and tributes through Facebook.

Messages paying tribute to Natalie on the social networking site described her as a bubbly young woman who lived life to the full.

One said: “I remember Natalie from school – what a breath of fresh air she was. Whenever I saw Natalie she was always so smiley and always jumping in excitement all the time, it was a pleasure to have known her. What a great shame, you will always be amazing wherever you are and will never be forgotten!”

Another said: “I’m afraid I didn’t know Nat that well but whenever I met her she was always such a fun, bubbly person to be around – she would always make everyone laugh, she managed to retain that wonderful trait of not letting life get her down. May she rest in peace.”

One other read: “I remember Natalie with great fondness – she was a lovely bubbly young lady who always seemed full of fun.”

For more information on how to help Laura compile the memorial scrapbook, locate the group on Facebook by entering Natalie’s name in the search field.