Eleanor Wild obituary

Other lives: Inspirational young woman who used her charm to win the hearts of NHS doctors, nurses and managers

My daughter, Eleanor Wild, has died aged 21, just as the NHS was preparing to celebrate its 70th birthday. This seemed quite fitting for someone who benefited from, challenged and helped to improve the health service so much throughout her life.

Eleanor was born in Newcastle upon Tyne with complex disabilities. Her father, Chris Wild, and I were both retail managers at the time – although I gave up work when the amount of support Eleanor would need became clear. Despite her disabilities, or perhaps because of them, she grew to be a lively and inspirational young woman. Although she could not speak, she had an incredible ability to get people to love her. She had a quick smile for those she liked, and a famous scowl for those she was not so fond of.

Eleanor certainly tested NHS services: like many young people with disabilities, she often just did not “fit” into the existing support arrangements. Yet she was able to use her charm, her story and her smile to win the hearts and minds of so many doctors, nurses and managers over the years – and persuade them to make changes for the better.

Indeed, since Eleanor’s death, we have been inundated with messages from NHS staff who have been touched by Eleanor’s story – and who have been able to change their practice, challenge their assumptions and work in closer partnership with complicated young people and their families because of her.

While very ill in hospital, she continued to make an impact. Eleanor and her experience of living in the community feature prominently (albeit anonymously) in the parliamentary joint committee report The Right to Freedom and Safety: Reform of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, which was published days before she died.

A video she made following her recovery from sepsis has been incorporated into a training module for doctors about sepsis and disability that was showcased at NHS England in the same week.

Her great love was for music. She had a truly eclectic taste (from Take That to swing crooners and the occasional brass band) and an exceptional memory for songs. She was delighted when the invention of the iPod meant that she could take her music with her wherever she went.

Eleanor is survived by her father and her stepmother, Lisa, by her brother, Ben, and sister, Lucy, and by her stepfather, Tim, and me.

Caroline Docking

The GuardianTramp

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