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Tributes paid to West Norfolk teenager who was 'truly beautiful inside and out'

Tributes have been paid to a West Norfolk teenager who was a "whirlwind of energy", who died days after attempting to take her own life last week.

Emily Owen, 19, of Shouldham, who worked at the King's Arms at Shouldham for a couple of years as a waitress and a bar team member, was "truly beautiful inside and out", her colleagues have said.

Emily had been on a critical care ward after trying to take her own life on Wednesday, but the decision was later made to turn off her life-support and give the hospital the time to prepare for organ donation, and she died at the weekend.

Emily Owen. (32307922)
Emily Owen. (32307922)

According to a post on the King's Arms Facebook page, Emily had signed up to be an organ donor at the age of 12.

"That sums her up, always so caring and thoughtful about other people," the post added.

Abbie Panks, vice-chairman of Shouldham Community Enterprises which runs the pub, said: "Emily was a whirlwind of energy, so caring and funny, truly beautiful inside and out.

Emily Owen and friends and family
Emily Owen and friends and family

"She was loved by our team and customers alike. She was also an incredibly talented artist.

"The team are understandably heartbroken. Emily was sure a big part of our team, along with her sister Annie and brothers Jacob and Tom who also work at the King's Arms.

"We are going to miss Emily enormously, she was a part of our family here."

Emily Owen and her sister Annabel (32308814)
Emily Owen and her sister Annabel (32308814)

The King's Arms team have since launched a JustGiving page for Norfolk and Waveney Mind in Emily's memory, which has already raised more than £2,000.

Abbie added: "People have been so generous and we want to raise much as we can in Emily's name.

"If you can donate, no matter how much we would really appreciate it and if people are not able to donate, we ask that when the time comes and they can do some volunteering that they do so with Emily in their mind and heart."

Emily Owen and her sister Annabel (32308816)
Emily Owen and her sister Annabel (32308816)

She said Emily would have wanted people to check on their loved ones and keep an eye out for others, especially at a time like this.

"She believed the fear of the unknown may drive them over the edge and was planning on volunteering to help these people," the post on the King's Arms Facebook page added.

"We are heartbroken that we won’t see her breeze through our doors like a tornado of energy again, or hear her distinctive laugh, she was a big part of our team and we will miss her enormously."

The post ends: "Our love and support goes to Tim, Sue, Evie and our fellow King’s Arms team members, Annabel, Tom and Jacob."

Emily's sister Annabel Owen has also paid tribute to a "beautiful, funny, talented and a little bit crazy daughter and sister" on behalf of her family, on her Facebook page.

The post, published on Monday morning, said Emily had passed away peacefully the previous afternoon.

Her family say, thanks to her organ donation wishes, Emily has "given hope" to four families, three of them children, who are now "starting new lives".

The post adds: "We are all absolutely devastated but also immensely proud of everything she achieved in her life.

"So many people have messaged us over the past five days saying how Emily helped them through hard times of their own, and we had no idea how much positive impact she had had on those around her."

It goes on to say that to many, Emily was a "really fun, energetic, happy girl" but only a few were aware of the "many years of internal battles" she had.

"Few people are aware but four years ago she was diagnosed with high-functioning autism and had a daily battle to fit in and conform to social norms.

"She didn’t want anyone to know, but now she has gone we want to make people know that autism comes in all shapes and sizes.

"Despite this she managed to finish school, go to college, finish an apprenticeship and start working in the King’s Arms with a fantastic bunch of people and Ian and Abbie’s support.

"Please look out for people, be kind as your never know what is going on in people’s lives."

The post ends: "Emily was very concerned about coronavirus itself but more concerned about the mental health impacts of isolation and the fear of unknown.

"She said only a few days ago that ‘more people will die from suicide during this than the virus itself’.

"So please look out for everyone in these difficult times."

To donate to the fundraiser for Norfolk and Waveney Mind in Emily's memory, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Emilyo.

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