Tribute to Leanne Pannell

16-1-2008: BRAVE Brixington teenager Leanne Pannell has lost her fight with a rare progressive illness, six years after being given just 18 months to live.

16-1-2008: BRAVE Brixington teenager Leanne Pannell has lost her fight with a rare progressive illness, six years after being given just 18 months to live.

Leanne, 19, lived life to the full against all odds - leaving an inspirational impression on all who knew her.

Clutching the hand of mum Tracie, and surrounded by dad Mark, brother Curtis and boyfriend Chris Hopkins, Leanne died on January 2, writes Robin Leeburn.

Despite her energy and determination, the lung disease pulmonary hypertension - which constricts the blood flow to the heart - finally claimed her life.

A successful gymnast, scuba diver, kickboxing brown belt and proficient sportswoman, Leanne's illness forced her to slow down, but never robbed her of her zest for life.

"She never gave up. Life was too short and she lived every day like it was her last," said Tracie, of St John's Road. "The illness made us appreciate life more than many who take it for granted. We knew the time we had was precious. It made us look at life differently, which Leanne certainly did. She was a true inspiration.

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"Leanne inspired too many people for her to be forgotten. She has been a friend to hospitals, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) and to people locally.

"She was so upbeat, and always said she would rather enjoy five years than live 10 stuck in a chair, lonely and depressed."

Leanne earned 12 GCSE A or B grades despite disrupted studies and completed A-levels in psychology and sociology. Community college teachers extended their sympathy to Leanne's family.

Psychology teacher Rob Rooksby, who set up a voluntary teaching assistant role for Leanne after A-levels, said: "It is impossible for me to sum her up in a few words - she was one of the most extraordinary people I have ever met. Even in such a short space of time she had become an invaluable colleague to me. I will miss her enormously."

Marpool Primary acting head Rachel Pattison, Leanne's first teacher, said: "She will be sorely missed - and will continue to be an inspiration to young people to treat every day as special. Our thoughts go to her family, who have showed where she got her strength from."

Dozens of messages of love and support for Leanne's family and boyfriend have been posted on the website of the PHA.

Leanne, a friendly face to many fellow sufferers, was the subject of a television documentary spreading awareness of her illness.

Forum member and PH sufferer 'Jane' wrote: "Leanne was such an inspiration to us all. She was such a lovely girl. Although I only saw her on the TV, I felt I knew her."


Leanne was an amazing person and a brilliant friend. I used to meet her every day on lunch break, we had some amazing laughs down the beach. She will always be remembered as a gentle, fun loving gal. Rest in peace xx

Luke Beal, Exmouth

Leanne was inspiration to everyone who had contact with her. Leanne and her Mum Tracie have helped my daughter (she also has PPH) and myself over the last few years. A brave girl and brave family who are very close in my thoughts. R.I.P Leanne.

Tracey, Scotland