A Tribue to Katie Henderson.

20/09/83 - 13/01/19

On Sunday 13th January I received the devastating news that one of my best friends Katie Henderson had passed away. I am still deeply shocked and saddened but I wanted to dedicate this page to her. This page will remain on my website forever because that is the least she deserves. Katie was a huge facebook fan and would spend many hours each day chatting to her friends on it and posting information that was always of great interest. Each post she made would receive many comments from all those lucky enough to be her facebook friends. If you go to her facebook page now you can read hundreds of posts by all the people that knew her saying what a wonderful, inspiring lady she was. She touched the hearts of everyone, strangers became her friends very quickly and she lives on through everyone she inspired which is just one of her three amazing legacies.
Katie loved this photo, it was taken on International Ataxia Awareness Day 2005 (25/09/05) at a photoshoot for Ataxia UK. We were racing from one end of the Millennium Bridge in London to the other. I can hear her laugh now and it is clearly shown in this photo.

I first got to know Katie in around 2002 after we appeared on the same leaflet promoting ataxia UK. Her striking red hair was what drew me to her. I was at the time webmaster for ataxia UK. She used to email me quite regularly about the website and how it could be improved. It was soon clear to me that Katie had a very good knowledge of how to compose and maintain a website as well of course as having a very good knowledge of ataxia being that she herself had been diagnosed at the age of eight. She also won an award in 2004 for work on her own website "Friedreich's ataxia and I" (Click here to see) - although she is no longer around her website contains masses of information which will be of interest to anyone who has FA. This is her second legacy.

I spent a few years getting to know and trust Katie more and more and in early 2005 it seemed the natural thing to do to allow her to become ataxia U.K.s new Webmaster. I continued writing the article for the magazine but she was doing all the work on the website and making all the improvements that she had been suggesting to me for a good couple of years. She did a brilliant job. Designing websites was of course in its infancy but she did a fantastic job even though like myself, she had had no hands-on training at all. Our frindship blossomed after this time and we would regularly meet up in London and go on the London Eye. We shared the same birthday and would always meet up on this day. One year we took a boat trip down the River Thames from Westminster. We also shared an interest in watching music conserts and went to many including The Beautiful South in Hammersmith in December 2004, the Spice Girls at the O2 Arena in January 2008 and the Scissor Sisters at the Birmingham NEC in December 2010. I also managed to persuade her to attend the 2007 Carling Cup Final in February of that year (when Chelsea beat Arsenal 2-1). This was played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Later in 2007 she joined me and a group of other ataxians on a holiday in Cyprus. We all had a fantastic time and the following year she came on a holiday I arranged for another group of my friends in Spain. We stayed in an adapted Villa close to Benidorm. I remember she roomed with one of my PAs (Daniela) and again we all enjoyed the holiday greatly. There were four of us that had ataxia who went on this holiday and we all got so much enjoyment out of it and true friendships that have lasted ever since. See photos from this holiday In the summers of 2009 & 2010 we went with two of my PAs (Paul and Ivana) to my holiday home in Mazarron, Spain. Katie loved it there and we were still discussing another trip there right up until the Christmas just gone.

A friend of mine Jenny (another fellow Ataxian) created her own support group based in London. This would have been between the years 2007 -2010. Jenny was secretary and someone called Paul Stanley was the treasurer. Katie attended most of the meetings (no small achievement when you live in Coventry and dont drive), and worked closely with Jenny on their newsletter. The articles were sent to Katie in draft format and she would make them into a professional looking newsletter using her knowledge of computers and wordprocessing. She attended many events within this London branch and played a very active roll. She was of course very well known within the branch.

No doubt inspired by Jenny's efforts with the London Branch, in 2011 Katie started up a support group for other people with ataxia in the Coventry and Warwickshire area. She took enormous pride in this group and arranged a Christmas lunch each year, theatre trips, cinema visits and other events. The Group now has 30 members, and that was all down to her enthusiasm and ability to make everyone feel so welcome. I am sure they will find someone else to take over the role of administrator because I am sure that is what Katie would have wanted. This is her third legacy. i will be taking over the hosting of both her personal site and the group site (Click here for the Website of the Coventry & Warwickshire Support Group).

She had acquired a standing frame and a patient turner by the end of 2016 in order to improve her confidence in transferring. This was something she knew she would have to do to be able to cope in my Villa. Again she regularly posted pictures of her using the frame so I do know that she was making a real effort in order to be fit enough. She had two major pieces of surgery performed on her in 2016 one was an operation to cut the tendons in her legs which would allow her to transfer more easily using her feet and the other was to have a Catheter fitted to make the passing of urine more simple for her she would keep everyone up-to-date with progress at the hospital from her hospital bed on her facebook page.

I for one am proud to have been her friend. Saying goodbye will be very difficult, though writing this webpage tribute has helped. I choose to remember Katie as the friend who, in 2005, won the well-deserved Anne Ford Cup at the Ataxia UK Annual Conference for her contributions to the charity. She loved to attend the Conference because she knew virtually everybody there and was so proud to win this cup in front of her friends.

RIP my friend Katie