Hardly a dry eye at totem pole tribute for ‘unique’ Yarmouth woman

A totem pole was put up at Shine, in Alpha Road, Great Yarmouth, in memory of 19-year-old Bethany (B

A totem pole was put up at Shine, in Alpha Road, Great Yarmouth, in memory of 19-year-old Bethany (Beth) Clarke. Photo: Ollie Mawbs Photography - Credit: Ollie Mawbs Photography

A poignant tribute has been paid to a 'unique' woman who loved nothing more than to socialise.

Beth with her mum Carol

Beth with her mum Carol - Credit: Supplied

Bethany Clarke, 19, was born with a rare genetic disorder and was the only one in the world with her genetic make up.

She was known for loving her music, socialising and being keen to make sure her outfits matched perfectly.

And family and friends came together to remember Beth last week, when a totem pole was put up at Shine activity centre where she enjoyed spending time.

There was hardly a dry eye when the piece of art - which had Beth's name engraved onto it - was erected, with the help of generous volunteers from Community Roots.

Bethany Clarke, from Yarmouth, who died aged 19

Bethany Clarke, from Yarmouth, who died aged 19 - Credit: Supplied

And Beth's mother Carol Blyth, along with her sons 21-year-old Jordan and seven-year-old Aston, Beth's grandmother Sue Double and Shine manager Belinda Crayston spoke of how they'll remember Beth, who died after coming down with pneumonia.

Carol said: 'She loved her music, she loved to socialise and she would just talk to anyone. She wanted to know what everyone else was doing.

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'She was very bright, but she couldn't always express herself.

'And although she had some behavioural problems and mobility problems, she had never had any other issues and had never really been ill. It took a lot to keep her down.'

She said the hardest time would be Christmas when the family were together, as Beth - who had attended the John Grant School - would take charge in handing out the presents.

And that although there were so many good memories, one she would hold particularly close was Beth's 18th birthday party last year.

'It was at Kingfisher in Burgh Castle and everyone from Shine came, and friends and family,' she said.'It's the last really special memory we will hold close.'

She said this was especially memorable because so little was known about Beth's condition, that no one had known if she would live to see her 18th birthday.

'No one knew what that meant for her and she loved any excuse to

have a party.'

Belinda added how she'll always remember how Beth took control. Beth had started going to Shine when she was still a child, but when she turned 18 she became the centre's first staff volunteer, as she couldn't bear the thought of not going.

Belinda affectionately said: 'No matter what she did she always had to have the last word.'

Carol added: 'I was reluctant to send her at first because I thought no one could look after her like I could. It was only by chance we heard about Shine but the first time she came it was fantastic. She never wanted to miss it.'

Showing just how sociable Beth was, crowds turned out to celebrate her life at her funeral on May 5. Carol said: 'The place was packed, there were 300 people at least, and I knew every single person.'

And one special stunt raised a smile - instead of throwing flowers onto the coffin these were swapped for pairs of underwear, because as Aston said: 'Beth would always tell you what knickers to wear!'

Carol, 42, added: 'We wanted to remember that day in a positive way.'

The totem pole dedicated to Beth, and carved by sculptor Jason Parr, has now taken pride of place in the garden at Shine, on Alpha Road.Jason, 45, carved the pole with a nautical theme, adding the Shine emblem to the top and Beth's name to the middle.

Carol said: 'I never want her to be forgotten and everyone will look at that totem pole and see her name.'

• To make a donation in Beth's name pop into Shine, on Alpha Road, or call 01493 661000.

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