Nothing will alleviate the grief that’s enveloped Ashley Wadsworth’s family since news she’d been killed made its way back to them in Vernon, B.C., from England.
The support pouring in from strangers living half a world away, however, has been a beacon of light in what are otherwise bleak times.
Melissa Locke, Wadsworth’s cousin, watched with some surprise the footage of a Saturday night vigil for the 19-year-old held in Chelmsford, Essex, the U.K. city she’d travelled to last November to be with the man now charged with her murder, Jack Sepple.
An estimated 150 people walked to a park near where she’d recently lived with him, carrying signs denouncing violence against women and offering words of support for Wadsworth, a woman whom most had never met.
“(They) didn’t even know us and how they just reached out and it feels like they’re our family in some way,” she said.
Locke said it was an “amazing gesture,” but just one of many ways they’re “honouring (Ashley Wadsworth) there.”
On Monday, Locke said a family member of the woman who organized the vigil contacted her to offer a prayer that they were including in the vigil.
She’s also been told that a candle will be lit for Wadsworth every year by an area resident named Linda Taylor, who lost her grandson, Liam, also 19 years old.
It happened only a block away from Ashley and she will light a candle for both of them.
“Who does that for people they don’t know? It’s so amazing and we’re very, very touched,” Locke said.
These gestures, however, don’t change the hard realities the family is facing at the moment, the least of which is bringing Wadsworth home.
“As we are trying to navigate this nightmare, we’re finding out that the logistics of something like this happening in another country are quite complicated and costly,” Locke said.
“There’s going to have to be funeral homes on both ends and just that transport (for) getting Ashley home and … the costs associated with celebrating her life and being able to respect her wishes (to be buried) in line with her faith and her beliefs.”
A fundraiser has been set up to help the family meet that aim.
Honouring the memory of the funny and bright young woman who loved her family and was filled with promise is also their focus.
For those who loved her, summing up all she was is nearly impossible, though Locke said her adventurous spirit was something that helped define her.
“She was 19 and she had the guts during the pandemic to travel across the world to do something she always wanted to do,” Locke said. “If that doesn’t tell you who she was, I don’t know what does.”
Wadsworth’s sister, Hailey, sent some words about her sister that organizers of the weekend vigil read aloud, and they also cast light on who she was.
“My beautiful sister,” the message read. “You have done amazing things, honey. You cared so much for your family. You always put us first.
“I’m so happy we were so close and grew up together and spent almost every day of our lives together,” Hailey said.
“I don’t think I almost ever went a day without talking to you. I love you so much, I’ll never stop missing you. I keep seeing you and I know you’re here watching out for me.”
An online fundraiser has been organized by Wadsworth’s family in an effort to raise funds to bring her back to Canada.
So far, the family has raised $27,553 with a goal of $50,000.
In pictures of her stay in England, Wadsworth looked like she was having a wonderful time.
Friends, however, have said that she reached out for help before she died. Sepple was said to be controlling and not well-liked by those who loved Wadsworth.
Sepple appeared in court last Friday on a charge of murder. He has been in custody since the night of Feb. 1.
His next court appearance was set for March 7 for a preliminary trial and preparation hearing.