Colourful goodbye to Norwich woman Toni Lawton who co-founded Sweet Arts group for women
- Credit: Archant
Family and friends have gathered to pay a colourful and artistic tribute to a Norwich woman who used art to improve the lives of vulnerable people.
Toni Lawton helped to found Sweet Arts in 2006 to help hundreds of women through creative arts.
At a celebration of the her life at Colney Woods on Friday, guests wore colourful clothing and remembered the 54-year-old through poems, recollections and music.
Ms Lawton died after a long and brave battle with adrenal cancer last month and is survived by her daughter Molly, 19.
Close cousin Romney Walton said: 'Being a mother to Molly was her life and joy. What a mum, always full of love, laughter, and adventure. Toni had a knack of knowing what to say and when to say it to people; these exceptional counselling skills led her to charity work.'
In keeping with her love of art, Ms Lawton wished to become an 'artyfact', so her family had the coffin vibrantly painted and decorated with words, poetry and pictures as a tribute to her joyful and expressive character.
Ms Lawton, who lived in Magdalen Road in Norwich, was an active charity worker and volunteer.
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As a key leader for Sweet Arts, she worked with women who suffered from mental health issues, substance misuse, domestic abuse and depression.
The aim of Sweet Arts was to create a supportive environment for those at risk, using creative and enterprising projects to motivate and comfort. Alongside her work with Sweet Arts, the mum-of-one was awarded the Visual Art Award at the Norfolk Arts Awards in 2015.
Unfortunately, Sweet Arts closed during Ms Lawton's illness due to lack of funding but the co-founder of SweetArts, Melanie Tilford continues to hold art groups for women. Called ArtAtWork Community Interest, the groups are held at The Vauxhall Centre in Norwich on Tuesdays.
Norwich South MP Clive Lewis said: 'When I met Toni I was really impressed by her energy and commitment to the women of Norwich, to Sweet Arts and to the women's centre. Rarely do you meet someone who makes such a huge difference to women's lives. Norwich and the arts scene will miss her hugely.'