Remembering Stephanie Frewin
New College wishes to acknowledge that it has been six months since the much loved Stephanie Frewin sadly passed away on Saturday, 21 October 2017 after a battle with Leukaemia. The College recognizes the trauma that was felt by many New Collegians, including those who are now alumni, following her passing. In remembering Steph and the significant impact she had within and beyond the New College community, we are posting a speech in which Steph was named as the 2017 New Collegian of the Year.
The following speech was written and read by one of Steph’s close friends, Annabel Paul, at the 2017 Valediction Dinner and has been reposted on this 6 month anniversary with permission of the Frewin family.
Good evening everyone,
Whilst it is with deep sadness that I stand before you in light of the loss of Steph from our community, it is also a real privilege to be able to share with you some of her friends’ greatest memories of her time at college.
This semester was Steph’s fourth in college, and as such she was eligible to be a valedict alongside many of you tonight. In my four years at college I’ve experienced many traditions, but one of my absolute favourites is the speeches about each of our valedicts. During these speeches we get to hear how truly amazing new collegians are, being reminded of the blessing it is for us to have lived among them in their two or three years at college. As such, I am going to share with you now a much deserved valedictory speech on behalf of the many friends of Stephanie ‘Stitch’ Frewin.
When reflecting on Steph, five words come to mind: strong, kind, fun, servant-hearted and faithful. Being a country girl from Tooraweenah, Steph’s physical strength was second to none, thanks to many summers spent shearing on a friend’s property. After moving to Sydney, she quickly transferred her love of physical activity to a more eastern suburbs appropriate activity in Pilates. Steph loved having Sweatsoc Pilates mornings in college, regularly putting everyone else to shame as she taught her favourite moves, which incidentally were some of the most challenging you could come across! Steph’s strength was not limited to her physical abilities though. As she begun her first battle with Leukaemia, we were all constantly amazed at her strength, courage and perseverance. Her determination to come back to college and uni was truly inspiring, and what a joy it was to welcome her back to the community in 2016.
Kindness and a sense of fun are two things that New Collegians are well known for, and Steph was no exception. As a member of the early morning breakfast crew, Steph always had a kind and encouraging word to share as we headed into a new day. She loved to be adventurous and get out of Kensington on the weekends, forging great memories with her friends on many outdoor adventures. On stage, she was a triple threat, singing, dancing and acting in Revue 2016. But she couldn’t get enough and came back to produce the college play in 2017.
Not only was Steph kind, but she was also so generous and servant-hearted with her time. Though rarely out the front, for almost three years, Steph was always there; whether it was on the stage, at the party, at college service or on the sporting field.
She would often go and support collegians in their orchestra concerts, or serve quietly behind the scenes in college, modelling so well the New College value of collegiality.
For many of us, Steph’s journey to faith in God is the thing we will remember most clearly in the months and years to come. Although Steph came to college not believing in Jesus, New wasn’t the first time she had encountered Christianity. In her last few years of high school, Steph spent a lot of time with people at the Gilgandra youth group, one of whom, Catherine, is here with us tonight. For much of her school life Steph had thought that people who had faith in God were a bit silly, but during these few years she came to thinking that the idea of God didn’t seem so impossible anymore.
It was in this context that Steph arrived at New, only six weeks later being diagnosed with Leukaemia. When she was in remission, Steph shared with us the great struggle that her treatment had been, but how she had felt during this time that someone was looking after her. After coming back to college in 2016, Steph began reading the Bible with a fellow fresher of mine Emma Dunn, and rejoined the girls’ bible study group. One of my favourite memories of Steph was a few months later when we were on Campus Bible Study’s mid-year conference. Emma, Steph and I were eating lunch together overlooking a picturesque paddock of sheep. Steph was in such turmoil; she had so many questions about God still on her mind, but at the same time felt like she was at the point where she knew enough to decide about whether she believed that Jesus was who he claimed to be. Both Emma and I said to her that day, that no matter how many questions you get answered, more will arise. What matters is whether you believe that Jesus is God’s Son, who came to Earth, died on the cross and rose back to life. Steph took some time to think this through, and when we came back to college she shared with us that on her drive home she had decided to trust in Jesus. Hearing this news was without a doubt one of the best moments of my college life. Since then Steph threw herself into even more aspects of the college community, as she sought to both love and serve those she lived amongst in light of the great joy she had in Jesus.
And there concludes a slightly extended 100 words on the beautiful Stephanie ‘Stitch’ Frewin. A strong, kind, fun, servant-hearted and faithful collegian we will all remember for touching this place and our hearts in an unforgettable way.