Tragedy of Faversham woman Grace Large who died of sudden adult death syndrome after battle with eating disorders
Tragic Grace Large died aged 26
A young Faversham woman who spent 10 years trying to get the "perfect" body she saw in magazines died suddenly from heart failure.
Grace Large, 26, went to bed with flu-like symptoms - but suffered sudden adult death syndrome, an inquest heard.
Her mother and sister said they believed her heart had been weakened by her decade-long battle with anorexia and bulimia.
Curvy Grace became obsessed with stick-thin, air-brushed women while she was still at school and her dieting ran wildly out of control, her mum Rosemary Large said.
She said she detested her figure and became so thin she had to move home from university in Sheffield when her health deteriorated.
But her family said they were helpless as the slimming "addict" started disappearing before their eyes.
Her sister Kira Town, 29, said: "We think Grace's eating disorder contributed to her death.
"We've done a lot of research and discovered that years of bulimia alters the chemical balance of the heart, which can cause it to fail in the same way it does with sudden adult death syndrome.
"She started getting into fashion and had all these magazines.
"She was beautifully curvy, she had the curves I always wanted, but she saw that as a negative thing rather than a positive one.
"At first she was doing proper diets and just eating healthily but eventually we noticed her getting dangerously skinny."
Proud auntie Grace Large cradles her sister Kira's son Jude
She added: "A lot of young girls have issues with body image. They think they've got to be blonde and skinny with long legs but that's not what beauty is.
"Unfortunately, it's one of those things where there's nothing you can do except support them.
"It's a type of addiction, like drug addiction, and the person has to want to be helped."
"She was beautifully curvy, she had the curves I always wanted, but she saw that as a negative thing rather than a positive one..." - Grace Large's sister Kira Town
Mrs Large, 55, said: "As a teenager she loved fashion. She was always a step ahead and loved tottering around in her red, silver and gold stilettos.
"But she studied hard and always had to get the top marks."
She added: "She hated upsetting people and would get upset herself if she thought she'd upset anyone else."
Grace's desperation for the perfect body also led to her over-drinking and needing mental health treatment for bipolar disorder
The inquest, at Dover Magistrates' Court, Kent heard Grace went to bed at her South Road home on March 19 with flu-like symptoms and was found dead by her mother a few hours later.
Mrs Large said her daughter, a BT phone advisor, had looked particularly well just days before her death.
Grace Large with her nephew Jude
She said: "She was feeling much better and was quite positive, talking about education and going back to do a degree.
"On the day she died Grace said she was not feeling well, with flu-type symptoms. I advised her to takes some flu remedy, drink plenty of fluids and stay in bed.
"We said good night to each other, I didn't go into her room and I thought she was sleeping.
"I went to bed and later I heard strange sounds, went to her room and she was dead. I called the ambulance."
Faversham woman Grace Large spent years trying to get the "perfect body"
Pathologist Dr Kareem Aboualfa said Grace's cause of death had been difficult to determine but was most likely SAD.
Rachel Redman, the coroner for central and south east Kent, recorded a verdict of death by natural causes from sudden adult death syndrome.
Grace was born in Faversham and went to Davington Primary School where she was a member of drama and gym clubs. She then went to Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School and gained A levels in English, history and religious studies.
Her mother said: "As a young girl she was fairly quiet. She didn't have a lot of friends, but the ones she did have were special friends. As a teenager she loved fashion. She was always a step ahead and loved tottering around in her red, silver and gold stilettos.
"But she studied hard and always had to get the top marks. She loved reading and she's left me with a whole list of books she recommended I read. She read Harry Potter over and over again, that was her comfort book, but she also loved the classics.
"She looked after herself, was proud of herself, had a good work ethic and was pleasant and polite. She hated upsetting people and would get upset herself if she thought she’d upset anyone else."
Grace began a law degree at the University of Essex but decided it was not for her so started to study history at the University of Sheffield instead. She never finished the degree.
While Grace was alive and after she died her family turned to eating disorder charity Beat for support.
To donate to Beat in Grace Large's memory, click here.
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