We have asked Rebekah's Dad, David, to tell you a little bit about Beck.

When I was married I hoped Maureen and I would have three children, two boys and then a little girl. That was not going to happen, the Ashford Family did not have girls.

My grandmother, Lily, was married to William. They were both born in 1890. William had an older sister, Jessie. I remember Auntie Jessie.  Lily had three sons: Billy, my father Kenneth and Geoffrey. She never had a daughter.

She had no granddaughters, four grandsons.

My son, Peter, was her first great grandchild - a boy.  Then came my brother's son Jonathan and my son Matthew - no sign of a great granddaughter. Lily must have given up all hope of seeing am Ashford girl.

When Maureen went into hospital I had to stay at home with the boys. All of my children were born in The Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital - Aylesbury, Milton Keynes did not have a hospital of its own in those days.  The phone rang: "Your baby will be born in about twenty minutes so come down."

"I can not possibly find someone to look after the boys and drive to Aylesbury in twenty minutes.""

"Then do not hurry, you will not be able to get here for the birth."

I walked into the ward where Maureen was holding the latest member of our family. "Is he alright ?"  I asked.

"It is not a he, it is a she."

Do you know what I said ?  I said, "Are you sure ?"

"Go and phone your Nan,"  Maureen said.

I went to the phone box, no mobile phones in those days.

"When are you coming to see your great granddaughter ?"

Nan told me later that when she put the phone down she had a little cry. My Nan cry ?  She was a loving but formidable lady who lived through some hard times, probably never crying. She cried tears of joy when Rebekah was born. There have been many Ashford girls since but Rebekah Louise Maureen Ashford was the first Ashford girl to be born for one hundred years.

When Rebekah was a toddler it became evident that something was wrong. She would not eat and was not gaining weight. There was a series of blood tests, I remember the doctor wanting to repeat a test as an abnormal result was showing. I was at Leon School where I was a head of year when Maureen came in to speak with me.  I was running a twenty four hour disco in support of Willen Hospice at the time. The tests showed Rebekah had failing kidneys.  Within a week she was in hospital at Guys in London.

OurRebekah is all about having fun, doing some amazing, crazy and often silly things. It is all about smiling and helping others to smile. As we do this we will support Ronald McDonald House Charities as it puts a loving arm around families with sick children in hospital, people who are going through some very hard times.

Spend a few moments with us here, check out our different events then come and have lots and lots of fun with us.

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Rebekah was very poorly.  Her life was under threat. She needed a kidney transplant if she was to survive.

My employer, Leon School, and in particular Headmaster Bruce Abbott, was incredibly supportive.

It was easier for me to take Rebekah to the chronic renal failure clinic at Guys Hospital in London than Maureen. Originally Beck and I went to London on the train but later I changed to driving.

At one time my maternal grandmother was also in hospital in London. Beck and I used to pop in and see her on our way to Guys.  Beck and Nan were close. Nan lived to just short of her one hundredth birthday, she and Beck constantly exchanged letters.

Driving into London we would pass through the City of London, cross London Bridge and into Guys Hospital. One Sunday the IRA exploded a huge bomb in the middle of a road we used.  For months we had to take a large detour to avoid the giant bomb crater.

On another occasion there was a tube strike so traffic was heavy. Parking was impossible, I was forced to park illegally. I was prepared to pay the parking fine in order to get Rebekah to the clinic. Returning to where I had parked the car had vanished.  It had been towed away. Towed away to the other side of London. I had to take a taxi to the place where it had been taken. The taxi driver refused to charge me for the journey.  It did, however, cost me a lot of money to get the car back.  Rebekah's consultant, Doctor Susan Rigden, contacted the authorities who dropped the parking charge and refunded the release fee I had paid.

Rebekah had two kidney transplants, both failed as her immune system rejected them. Things were not good.

To make a little bit more money and help the family in difficult times I was writing a series of newspaper and magazine articles.  I came to know Elizabeth Ward and wrote an article about her. Elizabeth's son Timothy, known as Timbo, died of kidney failure in Guys Hospital.  She went on to found the British Kidney Patients Association and launched the kidney donor card, later to become the organ donor card.

Elizabeth recently celebrated her 90th birthday. She is an incredible woman who was very supportive towards Rebekah.

I also spent time with the bosses of McDonald's and wrote a newspaper article How Fast Is Fast Food ?  McDonald's was just opening its first Ronald McDonald House at Guys Hospital to support families with children in hospital.

It was decided that Rebekah's best chance of a successful transplant was to receive a live donation from either Maureen or myself. We both went through initial tests. I was in my office at Leon School when the phone rang.  It was Doctor Susan Rigden from Guys Hospital.  "Are you sitting down ?"

"No."

"You may like to. It is you who has been selected as the donor."

The board of governors at Leon School gave me three months paid leave, brought in a retired deputy headmaster to take my classes and appointed internally a temporary head of year to take my place.

I had to undergo many, many tests in preparation for the operation.  I arranged with a television company to make a news documentary with cameras in the twin operating rooms.  All this was done to promote the donor card.  The afternoon before Rebekah and I were due to be admitted to hospital we were shown into a room to await transplant surgeon Geoff Koffman coming out of theatre as he wanted to speak to us.  I knew what was happening. When Geoff came in, still in his theatre gown, my worst fears were confirmed. The operations were being cancelled, doctors had decided it would not be ethical to harm my health as the chance of Rebekah rejecting my kidney was too great.  I begged Geoff Koffman to take my kidney but it was not to be.

I remember driving home absolutely stunned. That was the closest I have ever come to having a nervous breakdown. Back home I did not go out of the house for two days, I just could not face people. But pulling myself together I returned to work and took just one week out of those three months paid leave. I clearly remember walking into my year group's assembly, as I neared the front of the hall a murmur went round "He's back".  My year group had been giving my stand in a very hard time, the headmaster was pleased to have me back. Now, all these years later, so many of those students who were seated in that assembly are my Facebook friends and have shown my family incredible love and support at the time we lost Rebekah.

Rebekah went back on the transplant list.

I took the boys, Peter and Matthew, to California and Maureen took Rebekah away on holiday in Somerset, England. While the boys and I were in Disneyland we got an Aladdin blanket for Beck.

I had driven overnight from Mexico to Los Angeles, tried to grab some sleep on the sands of Santa Monica then made an overnight flight home. I was met at Heathrow by a friend who said, "You are not to worry but Rebekah had a transplant last night.  I will take you straight to the the hospital."

I replied saying, "Can I go home and have a bath first."

When I got to Guys Hospital and went to Rebekah's bedside she smiled and said, "Look Dad my legs are pink." The new kidney was working.

However, as with the two previous transplants, Rebekah started to reject this transplant. Doctors took Maureen and I aside and explained the hope that if they filtered antibodies from her blood they could stop the rejection.  They explained that this would take away her immune system and was dangerous, even a cold would be serious.

"If she gets a cold you will treat it,"  I said.

"That's the point," Doctor Rigden said, "we could not."

Rebekah was far too young to make a decision but we knew what she would want.  We gave the family's blessing to lowering Rebekah's immune system to dangerous levels in a desperate attempt to save the kidney.

Ronald McDonald House at Guys Hospital had opened, this was the first house to open in Britain. It was actually opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.  Without Ronald McDonald I do not know how my family could possible have coped at this difficult time. We can never, ever thank Ronald for all he did.

Various biopsies were performed to monitor the kidney.

I was walking towards the lift on the floor of Guys Tower where Rebekah's ward was located. The lift doors opened and doctor Susan Rigden came out.

"Good news isn't it ?"  Doctor Rigden said.

"What good news ?"  I replied.

"Has nobody told you ?  The biopsy result - NO SIGN OF REJECTION !"

Rebekah had turned the corner but a long road to recovery stretched ahead of us. We lived, as a family, in Ronald McDonald House and received incredible support from its organisation.

Guys Hospital ran its own school and provided child care within its clinics. Rebekah decided she wanted to follow a career in child care.

Leaving school Rebekah qualified as a nursery nurse at Milton Keynes College. She went to to add many further qualifications to her CV.

Originally Rebekah went to work in the crèche operating within Safeway's Supermarket. When that crèche closed she went to work in the crèche at The Centre MK. There she met some special friends who remained friends for the ret of her life.

The picture below shows Rebekah with one of those friends and singer/actor Billy Boyd. The picture was taken at The Centre MK at one of its many Colectamania events.  Rebekah loved these times.

Leaving The Centre MK she joined the staff of Broughton Manor Preparatory School. She was very happy there and was greatly respected by her colleagues.

The happiest time of her life came when Rebekah met Gary.  They were married and began a wonderful life together.

Her special friends Alison and Jo were the bridesmaids at Rebekah's wedding but there was an extra bridesmaid. Gary and Rebekah adopted a rescue dog, Lucy Locket.

There was another dog at the rescue centre seeking a new home. For weeks Rebekah pestered for Maureen and I to adopt Jake. I did not want a dog and kept saying so.  Rebekah did not give up, she constantly brought pictures and was always saying "Adopt Jake - Adopt Jake"

We gave in, three and a half years ago Jake came to join our family.  We love him to bits and he loves Maureen and I so much.  He and Lucy are amazing friends.

While Rebekah was happy at Broughton Manor Preparatory School now living in Northampton the journey was too demanding. She joined the staff at Little Houghton Day Nursery.

Rebekah had a wonderful life. She and Gary were the perfect couple.

Gary was a supporter of Sheffield Wednesday and taught Beck all about football.

Rebekah taught Gary about shopping with a strong emphasis on buy it now before they sell out.

Rebekah developed a chest complaint which her immune system just could not fight off.  Life then was not easy but she never lost her smile, Rebekah was always our Little Miss Sunshine.

Rebekah and our family has always supported Ronald McDonald Houses.  On her birthday Beck asked friends not to send her a birthday card but to go to McDonald's and pop a few coins in the collecting box.

Rebekah always called her transplanted kidney Louise. Louise was coming to the end of its life and Rebekah was being prepared for dialysis. She was being cared for at Milton Keynes Hospital and Oxford's Churchill Hospital. The level of care she received was incredible, there is no other word to explain it. ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE.

Rebekah was weak and did not take to dialysis. Her body had no strength but her face never lost its smile. For a month I spent every day either taking Beck to a clinic appointment or driving to Oxford to visit her in hospital. She was very unwell.

Rebakah lost her fight on the morning of Friday 19th May 2017.

We have lost a special friend, daughter, sister, auntie and wife. We will not see her smile again but we must keep that smile in our hearts. 

It was Rebekah's wish that we continue to support the work of Ronald McDonald which is where we now are.

Rebekah's friends set up the OUR REBEKAH project with a plan to raise one thousand pounds in Rebekah's memory to help Ronald in his work.

It quickly became the family's plan to honour Rebekah by getting behind the OUR REBEKAH project and turning one thousand pounds into ten thousand pounds.  We had Rebekah for thirty-four years, the original target of one thousand pounds, then ten thousand pounds has changed to thirty-four thousand pounds, one thousand for each year of Beck's life. We supported Ronald McDonald House Charities for thirty years so no plan to continue for another thirty years in Rebekah's memory.

Life dealt Rebekah a very cruel and unkind hand but that did not stop her smiling. She was famous for her smile which was infectious. Up and down the country, in fifteen Ronald McDonald Houses and indeed in three hundred and sixty-five world wide, families are having a hard time as they have a child sick in hospital. Our aim is to take Rebekah's smile and stick it firmly on our own faces, then to have as much fun as we can raising support and awareness for the work done by Ronald McDonald House Charities.

DAD