Orphan Joshua Van Ruuyen rebuilds life after horror crash
Joshua van Rooyen with
his smiling mum Colleen
Seven years ago a 12-year-old boy walked through Heathrow
airport, one hand clinging to his aunt and the other to the ashes
of his mother.
That boy was Joshua van Rooyen, who was left an orphan after his
devoted mum Colleen was senselessly killed in a horror crash in
The popular teacher had been on her way to collect her son from
cricket practice when she was hit by two oncoming cars driving
dangerously in a narrow country lane.
Joshua could hear the sound of the emergency sirens racing to
the scene as he waited for her to show at Simon Langton Grammar
School for Boys. She never arrived.
Joshua – who was an only child – hasn’t picked up a cricket bat
since and his sports bag from that night still sits in his
wardrobe, untouched for seven years.
Joshua and Colleen play
in the sand on a trip to the beach
But as another year passes since Colleen van Rooyen’s untimely
death, a truly heart-warming story emerges about the broken son she
Speaking on the anniversary of her death, Colleen’s sister,
Linda van Rooyen told how she took Joshua in to her family home
9,000 miles away in Pretoria, South Africa.
He has since embarked on a journey from untold heartbreak to
academic success and personal achievement.
Linda said: “Due to the reckless and thoughtless behaviour by
two young boys Colleen’s life ended and Joshua lost his mum.
“They were an inseparable pair and Josh was left with no one to
call his own.
“In March 2006 I returned to South Africa with an emotionally
destitute little boy.
“So many traumatic nights started this journey, with Joshua
crying out at night and whimpering for his mum, but thanks to the
support of our immediate and extended family, as well as Colleen’s
dear and bereaved friends, Joshua soon realised that he was not
going to be forgotten just because his mum was dead.
“However, the healing for Joshua only really started after the
criminal court case, with the guilty verdict vindicating his
“He could then move forward and stop blaming her or himself.
Now 19, Joshua is studying mechanical engineering at the
University of Pretoria. He achieved remarkable results in the South
African equivalent of A-levels, achieving 90% in all his
Linda said: “He is such a dedicated student. Colleen would be so
proud of him.
“He is who he is because of his mum. She worked hard to instil
values in him, to teach him a work ethic and to teach him honesty
“I have not had to teach him any lessons – he learnt them all
from Colleen in the 12 years and three weeks she was in his
“I have only had to make sure that Joshua has felt secure, loved
and had a roof over his head.
“To this end I hope I have served him and Colleen well.”
"His cricket bag is as it was on the night of Colleen’s death and he has kept it in his cupboard" – Joshua's aunt Linda
The death of his mum
has left a lasting impact on Joshua, who never speaks of her or the
Linda said: “Josh listens when we talk about memories with his
mum, but he never talks about Colleen or the accident.
“Previously he would not want us to even mention his mum. His
cricket bag is as it was on the night of Colleen’s death and he has
kept it in his cupboard.
“He has never looked at nor lifted a cricket bat since the night
of February 22, 2006.
“His actions clearly show that he remembers her vividly and the
details of the night of the accident.”
Linda describes Josh as a “little fighter” and says everything
he has become is because of his mum.
She said: “He’s so much like his mother; talented, artistic,
creative, hard-working, logical and always looking to do better, to
be better and love more.
“Thank you to my sister Colleen, who taught Joshua so much and
who loved us all so much that she left Joshua with a legacy of love
and us with a family heirloom – her son, a bright shining talented
“I cannot thank everyone enough for all the love, support and
hard work that went into healing the broken child that came to live
“Joshua’s heart will always remain broken, but he is not
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