Family tribute for ‘beautiful and loving’ 25-year-old who died in crash near Welwyn Garden City
PUBLISHED: 15:30 21 April 2017 | UPDATED: 14:13 25 April 2017
The family of Amelia Jayne Szelewski, who died in a crash near Welwyn Garden City, have paid tribute to a “beautiful, selfless and loving” daughter and sister.
The 25-year-old tragically died after she was involved in a collision on the southbound carriageway of the A1(M) between Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City on Sunday, April 16.
She had been travelling back from a weekend away in Lincolnshire with her boyfriend Chris Burke, aged 35, and younger sister Celia, where they had enjoyed a break with her two elder sisters and 12 friends.
Following the collision, Chris and Celia were taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge for treatment where they both remain in a serious but stable condition.
Amelia, from Northolt, leaves her mother Cathy, aged 60, her father Spike, aged 62, and her sisters Nina, aged 28, Olivia, aged 26, and 22-year-old Celia.
The third youngest of four girls, Amelia was born at Ealing Hospital on September 12, 1991 and grew up in Northolt being doted on by her parents and older sisters.
When the Szelewskis’ youngest daughter Celia was born in 1995, Cathy says Amelia instantly adored the newest addition to the family.
She first attended Northolt Park Infants School followed by Greenwood Primary School and Northolt High School, where teachers praised her enthusiasm for learning and she was a popular pupil who made many friends.
The family are staunch supporters of Arsenal football club and all four girls played for Belmont United Youth FC until their mid-teens. Dad Spike recalled how Amelia’s talent on the pitch led to her being scouted to play for Watford Ladies FC, where she was part of the club for four years.
Sister Olivia, who works in property, said: “Amelia knew so many people. Every time we went into a pub, someone else would stop to chat to her – she was just that sort of person. She was the life and soul of the party.
“When we were away at the weekend, she didn’t stop laughing the whole time. She was so cheeky but she always retained this angelic, childlike innocence. I used to call her my angel.
“Even though there was only 14 months between us I always felt so protective of her. She was my little baby. Everywhere she went, she lit up the room. There was genuinely nothing bad you could say about her. She had such a good heart.”
Mum Cathy said: “We feel so privileged to have had Amelia in our life for 25 years. I feel privileged to be her mum, and what is comforting me right now is to know that she will be forever young.
“She won’t ever feel pain again; she won’t ever feel anxious again. She is at peace now. We’ve made a promise to her that we’re going to make her proud, so that’s what we’re going to do.”
Five years ago, the close-knit family endured heartache when Amelia’s cousin Yasmin Johnson died at the age of 18. She had a rare illness called anti NMDA receptor encephalitis, which means antibodies produced by the body’s own immune system attack nerve receptors in the brain.
Olivia, who recently moved out of the family home with Nina, said: “I know Amelia never got over that. She and Yasmin were so close, like the best of friends.
“They grew up together, and Yasmin was like another sister to us. It’s a comfort to know that they’re together again now.”
The family remember Amelia’s big heart, and how she was always there for her loved ones in times of need.
Nina, who works in a physiotherapy clinic, said: “Amelia was so caring – family meant everything to her. When our mum fractured her pelvis, she left her job without a second thought so she could look after her.
“She made sure she had everything she needed.
“When we were younger, we used to say Amelia was the naughtiest toy in the toy box.
“I remember one time, she drew on the table and my mum asked who had done it but Amelia wouldn’t own up! So we were sent upstairs and mum overheard our conversation on the baby monitor.
“Because I was the oldest I said I would take the blame, but mum wasn’t fooled and said ‘I know full well who did it, Nina – and it wasn’t you!’”
More recently, Amelia worked as a receptionist at drinks wholesaler Matthew Clark and it was there she met boyfriend of three-and-a-half years Chris, who works as a driver.
Describing their relationship, Olivia said: “Amelia and Chris were absolutely devoted to each other. I’ve never known two people to be so much in love. We used to joke that they were our couple goals!
“I remember I was having a bad day at work once, and they both turned up with a bag of all my favourite things to cheer me up.”
Cathy said: “Chris was the love of Amelia’s life. She was always encouraging him; she gave him focus. They made each other better people.”
Spike, who works as a design manager, said: “Amelia and her sisters have had a wonderful upbringing, and they are so close.
“The bond between the four of them is something that I think a lot of people admire. They share a rare love that will never be broken.”
Remembering a family holiday to the Isle of Wight, Cathy said: “I paid for two separate rooms for the girls, but they dragged all the mattresses into one room because they couldn’t bear to be apart!”
Olivia said: “We never fell out for any length of time. If we ever argued it would only last about half an hour before we made up. You never know what’s round the corner.
“I’ve always said we’re like the four chambers of a heart, all four of us together.”
Since her passing, the family have seen first-hand how much Amelia was loved by others after bunches of flowers and candles were laid in tribute outside the family home in North West London.