The family of Maddy Lawrence have paid tribute to the late rugby star following her death after a fatal bacterial infection.
A student at the University of the West of England in her first year, Lawrence tragically died in hospital on March 25. Her family revealed that the 20-year-old suffered a non life-threatening injury in a game but passed away after contracting a bacterial infection.
Lawrence was a winger nicknamed ‘Twinkle Toes’, and her family released a touching tribute. They said: “We have been completely overwhelmed and hugely comforted by the outpouring of love and support from you all for our beautiful Maddy and wanted to say a heartfelt thank you from a heartbroken family.
“Ever since Maddy started playing rugby at UWE she has loved every moment of it. During the last match of the season, she sustained an injury which was not at all life threatening.
“She went into hospital and we believed that she should be home by the weekend. Tragically, she had picked up a bacterial infection that the acute team tried tirelessly to get under control.
“Maddy fought with every sinew in her body, through life saving surgeries every single day of her stay in ICU. Her spirit and desire to live was so strong, as well as her heart and courage, that the medical teams were in awe of her and she never gave up that fight.
“So sadly on Friday 25th March, her body could take no more and we let her go, on to her next adventure with her adoring family by her side. Maddy’s presence, bravery, spirit, goodness, sass, beauty and love will never be forgotten and is felt all around us and in us and always will be.
“We are in the process of setting up a charitable fund through which Maddy will be able to continue her giving and her grace. As this is so recent we know that women’s rugby and the mental wellbeing of young people are two areas which will benefit from this fund, but we will keep you all posted regarding this as it develops.
“It would be Maddy’s and our greatest hope that you will all stay with us over the years as we watch this grow and flourish in her memory to provide hope, love and joy to countless people and thus keep her close always. Again, thank you so much for your words of comfort, memories of Maddy, thoughts, prayers and love.
‘”Please keep them coming. We find much strength from them.”
As a tribute to her memory, Lawrence’s teammates have asked all women’s rugby teams to hold a one-minute applause before any games this weekend. The official Twitter account of rugby's governing board in England, the RFU, also honoured Lawrence by tweeting: “On behalf of everyone at the RFU, we extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of Maddy Lawrence.
“The thoughts of everyone in the game are with UWE Women's Rugby, their players, members and the wider rugby community.”
The UWE Women’s Rugby posted a ‘celebration’ of Lawrence’s life and accomplishments. The club revealed they are set to retire the number 11 shirt in her honour.
“Maddy exemplified what it means to be a UWE Women’s Rugby Player, ‘tackling’ every new skill with enthusiasm,” the celebration statement read. “She proudly represented our club both on and off the rugby pitch, growing into the sport and our rugby family.
“Maddy was a bubbly girl who was so fun to be around. Whenever she smiled and laughed you couldn’t help but smile and laugh with her.
“That was the sort of player, friend, sister and daughter Maddy was. Her everlasting energy has left its mark on this club, she will forever be our number 11 and will forever be our friend.
“We will be retiring the number 11 shirt in Maddy’s honour and remembrance.”
Family and friends of the rugby player have set up a GoFundMe page in her honour, with all donations going towards helping set up a foundation in her name which will supporting Women’s Rugby and mental health.
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