My Eulogy For Becky Winstanley

They say you can’t choose your family but I know you can create one.

I met Becky when she was young. She thought it was hilarious to say I looked like Johnny Depp. She thought it was even funnier when I said he looked like me. And that’s how we got started.

The weight of Becky’s absence is deeply felt today. However, we’re also wrapped in the warmth of memories and stories that define her vibrant presence.

Many here will fondly recall Becky as the heart and soul of many a party, where she was surrounded by her mates, her laughter ringing out, infectious and heartwarming. I have those memories too, but beyond those bustling gatherings, there are intimate stories that I hope you’ll all share with each other. These reveal the Becky we knew and cherished.

I have vivid memories of a young Becky accompanying us to the stables in Eccleston, especially after her sister Natalie started working at Chorley Market on Saturdays. She’d join us in mucking out – a task that for many might seem mundane – but with Becky, it was always an event in itself. Whilst she loved the idea of ‘horse riding’ (which was usually just mucking out), the nitty-gritty of the great outdoors wasn’t really her thing. But that never stopped her. With each shovel or sweep, she’d playfully wrinkle her nose and shout “uuurrrrggghhhh” with exaggerated drama. As we all know, Becky loved a bit of drama!

I remember the time she cheekily used my laptop at the age of nine, leaving behind a trail of her curious and questionable searches… Her mum had words with her after that!

The melodies that flowed from her fingertips as she played the piano echoed her essence. It was always soaring and always striking. Inspired by our shared love for the instrument, she not only picked it up but always outshone my plonking with her talent. I loved to see her play and I always tried to encourage her.

Becky took a lot of selfie and was in a lot of photos so we all have a photo that epitomises her for us. We have smoky eye makeup Becky, we have sophisticated Becky, we have on a pub floor Becky…

For me, the photos that most captured her spirit are those where she is finding humour in the simplest of things and reminding all of us to not take life too seriously. Especially those when she’s younger.

We experienced challenging moments as well. Like when we began to notice she wasn’t developing as other girls of her age were. It was heart-wrenching to discover she had undiagnosed cystic fibrosis. Yet, Becky faced it with unparalleled strength, always with the backing of her mum, Karen. The tragedy of her being taken from us just a few days after her 25th birthday is especially hard, knowing she had not long since started a miraculous treatment, that looked like it would give her the kind of lifespan CF sufferers of previous generations could only dream about.

Amongst the challenges that shaped Becky’s journey was the untimely loss of our friend, Melissa. Mel’s departure at such a young age was not just a blow to all of us, but left an indelible mark on Becky. The two shared moments, dreams and a bond that is hard to put into words. The void Mel left behind, as well as Becky’s CF diagnosis, made Becky introspect deeply about life’s fragility and the importance of cherishing every moment. It’s a testament to Becky’s strength and character that she continued to embrace life with her characteristic vivacity, even as she carried such a heavy load.

I remember the last family BBQ we had. It was on Mel’s birthday. Whilst we – the more mature lot – sat engaged in our natters in the garden, I remember her sneaking drinks to my young son, Leon, my niece, Niyah and Becky’s younger brother, Lewis. She’d been leading Mel’s daughters Shannon and Olivia astray for years by then.

Whilst the older generation chatted away, thinking back on our own youthful indiscretions, I couldn’t help but see it as a changing of the guard. The younger ones were stepping up, embracing the spirit of our Frankenstein family and continuing the legacy. It wasn’t just about the mischief; it felt like a torch being passed on. The next generation finding their feet. I remember thinking this is what family is all about and how pleased I was to be part of it. I am so sad that she will never experience a similar moment of revelation.

Our bond transformed beautifully over the years. From knowing her as a young, if slightly quirky little girl, to watching her flourish into an accomplished young woman.

It filled me with pride that Rachel and I were able to assist her with her house purchases. To be there as part of the support network she fell back on, being there to offer advice when she sought it out.

She had a fun-loving spirit. She was always the heart of the party, drawing in friends from every corner. And whilst that side of Becky was undeniably authentic and joyous, there was another side of her, a side I wish everyone had the privilege of knowing.

Behind the makeup, when she had traded her heels for soft slippers, her handbags for the tv remote and when she was in her comfy clothes, that’s when another side of Becky shone through. Away from the crowd and the limelight, in those quiet moments, she revealed a vulnerability. There was a depth and a thoughtfulness that many would not have seen. It was during these times that she’d share her dreams, her fears and her reflections.

One of the moments that stands out most vividly in my memory is a simple meal a handful of us had together. It isn’t out of the ordinary for us all to enjoy a meal out, so when we got the call I thought nothing more of it. However, on that particular day, she handed me a card across the table. As I read the words and understood the sentiment, I was taken aback, leaving me momentarily speechless. The joy and honour I felt when Becky asked me to walk her down the aisle is indescribable. I wish I had told her that. In the moment, all I could manage was a slightly croaky “of course.”

There is one thing I’m somewhat relieved about. Becky won’t be sharing that infamous video of me drunk dad dancing, every single birthday! It had become one of our little traditions. And whilst part of me breathes a sigh of relief that the world won’t see my questionable moves, a bigger part genuinely wishes she could play it just one more time, for the sheer joy of the laughter it brought her.

One of my most bittersweet thoughts is knowing that Becky had dreams of motherhood. Given her nurturing nature and boundless love, I have no doubt she would’ve been an exceptional mum. I imagine her trading those lively nights out for quiet, cherished moments with her children. She would have embraced motherhood with all the passion she brought to everything she did. It’s a profound sorrow, not witnessing her embark on that journey and seeing the incredible mother she would undoubtedly have become.

I want to encourage each one of you to share your stories and memories of Becky. Whether it’s a small anecdote or a defining moment, every recollection paints a fuller picture of the beautiful soul she was. Let’s celebrate her life by weaving together our shared experiences. Every story, every memory, is both valid and invaluable. By sharing them, we keep her spirit alive and ensure her legacy continues.

Whilst it’s true you can’t choose your family – and though Becky and I weren’t related by blood – I stood by her side as any uncle would. Perhaps even more so. And even in her absence, this rag-tag family we’ve created endures. And I know we’ll ensure her memory remains alive within it.

Leave your thought.