Head jumps in deep end for Allie

THE headteacher of Channing School overcame a life-long aversion to water to take part in a sponsored swim on Saturday in memory of a pupil who recently died.

Barbara Elliott, 53, put her nerves to one side and took the plunge at the Mallinson Centre in Highgate. She joined 60 pupils and fellow teachers for a sponsored swim to raise money for the Alexandra Wylie Tower Foundation.

Alexandra Wylie, 17, was in the lower sixth at Channing when she died last November from a rare form of cancer.

Ms Elliott raised �2,000 for the charity by asking friends and family members to sponsor her as she swam 25 lengths. The final figure raised is still to be announced.

“Alexandra was a very special girl,” she told the Ham&High after the swim. “She was exceptional in everything she did. She was very academic, musical and a brilliant actress. She was one of those girls who was an all-rounder – a super star. She had a wonderful, supportive family. It’s just terribly sad that she did not have the gift of good health.”

Alexandra’s parents, Lindsey and Dr Robert Wylie, set up the Alexandra Wylie Tower Foundation to help underprivileged children achieve their dreams.

The couple, who live in Gladsmuir Road, Archway, attended the sponsored swim.

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Mrs Wylie, 51, told the Ham&High: “Alexandra loved the performing arts and was a keen scientist. She impressed everyone with her love of life. She was vehemently against any form of social exclusion.

“This charity aims to keep her memory alive by making it possible for underprivileged young people to achieve their dreams through involvement in the performing arts, sciences or environmental projects.”

Alexandra had been planning to read natural sciences or chemistry at university. She was also passionate about drama, a brilliant cellist and had ice skated in pantomimes at Alexandra Palace.

Mrs Wylie said her daughter suffered back pain in the summer of 2009 and a scan revealed she had tumours. “She was determined to get better, although the prognosis was not good.” Mrs Wylie said,

“She was a very positive person and felt this was something she needed to go through, that she would be a more compassionate person afterwards.

“She did not think she was going to die. She was very positive. Allie said to me, ‘I don’t think my path is to die but if it is I’m fine with that’. She did what she could to get better, she wasn’t scared of anything.

“Alexandra always tried her best. She took up kite surfing and was determined to keep on doing everything. But the tumours were quite large and there was very little they could do at that stage.”

“When people heard the news of her death, the whole community was devastated. There were 500 people at her funeral,” she said.

“Alexandra was very well known in Highgate, she danced in Pond Square at the Fair in the Square and at the Highgate Ballet School.

“It’s very nice for the community to have a focus in some way of remembering and hopefully we can all make some sense of her death by doing something for charity.”

The girls have put a sign up in the sixth form saying ‘A for Allie’ and are determined to try to get as many A*s as possible in their exams in June.

Anyone wishing to donate to the charity should visit www.justgiving. com/awft.

Pink bracelets are available in Highgate Village Fruiterers with the message “Passion for Life”, which Channing girls felt best summed up their friend.