An “adoring” mum and wife who battled three cancer diagnoses in 12 years has died, leaving behind a proud family and a huge circle of fundraising friends.
Avril Mathieson, a mother-of-three, spent more than a decade battling the illness during which she maintained she was a “tough old bird who just gets on with it”.
Proving that, she took to the catwalk as part of Friends of Anchor’s Courage on the Catwalk event to help raise thousands of pounds for the charity in 2018.
The 55-year-old, raised and educated in Peterhead but lately of Crimond, died last Tuesday.
Her family have described her as “the life and soul” of the party and a “loving wife”, “special mum” and “adoring” grandmother to her 10 grandkids.
Adopted and raised by parents Sandy and Marjory Blow, she was educated at the town’s North School and academy, gained a qualification in administration and business studies at Banff and Buchan college and enjoyed a variety of jobs in retail and administration sectors – most recently working at Nickel Training Services in Peterhead.
During that time she was also a stay-at-home mum to her three children Scott, Nicola and Graeme.
She gained a step-daughter Sarah, when she married husband Davie Mathieson in 2008 who she called her “soul mate” and friend of 10 years prior to their marriage.
Before, and even after her diagnoses, she made special memories with her children including family holidays to Houston, visits to Rangers’ games, Cadona’s, summer holiday excursions and shopping trips.
Her daughter Nicola Cairns said: “Me and mum had a special bond and she was my best friend. I have so many memories that I will cherish forever. Mum has made me the person I am today.”
Her step-daughter Sarah Mathieson described her as “fun and outgoing” and someone who “lived her life to the full no matter what life threw at her”.
And it was shortly after her wedding that Mrs Mathieson was thrown her first life blow when was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She went on to have chemotherapy and a mastectomy in what was to become a battle she would fight courageously for the next 12 years.
Unfortunately, cancer spread slowly throughout her body and in 2015 Mrs Mathieson and her family were told the devastating news that she only had 12 to 18 months left to live.
She outlived that expectancy, though, in her own words saying she “passed her sell by date” until she lost her fight last week.
During that time, she and husband Davie, embraced every moment to make memories, travelling often to visit friends in Bulgaria and with Mrs Mathieson’s “beautiful boy Sandy” – a beloved six-year-old Golden Retriever – never far from their side.
In 2018 Mrs Mathieson demonstrated her resilience when she appeared in Courage on the Catwalk, in aid of Friends of Anchor, alongside 23 other women at the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen.
At the time she paid tribute to both her husband Davie, calling him “her rock throughout everything” and Anchor Unit staff which she described as “worth their weight in gold”.
The friends made on the catwalk remained steadfast ones, with Mrs Mathieson since remembering them as “sisters from another mister”.
Sarah-Jane Hogg, director at Friends of Anchor, said: “Avril was a steadfast and passionate part of our charity family from the moment we met her. She had an attitude and a zest for life that inspired the people around her, but in true Avril style, she would have shied away from being called inspirational.
“Avril faced her diagnoses with grit, determination, and a great sense of humour. Avril, and her husband Davie always made time for Friends of Anchor, which was so close to her heart – helping at events and representing the charity as an ambassador in Crimond and the surrounding area.
“Our hearts are very much with her wonderful husband and family.”
A fundraising page set up online in aid of Friends of Anchor and instead of a funeral collection, has already raised £500 for the charity.