Alumni

"I think about all the children she has helped" - a conversation with Penny Abberley

Emma Abberley 400 pix

We talked to Penny Abberley about the tragic loss of her daughter, and how, through the Emma Abberley Scholarship, Emma’s legacy and love of helping autistic children lives on.

October 26th 2014 is a date scorched in the memory of Penny Abberley.  It’s the day her life changed forever when her wonderful daughter Emma was tragically killed in a horrific car accident. The University of South Wales student was thrown from her car, and sadly died at the scene. Emma was just 29.

A generous collection was made at the funeral of Emma, and Penny and her family decided to donate the money back to the University to benefit a cause close to Emma’s heart.

“We decided to give the money back to the University of South Wales Behavioural Analysis Clinic, to help provide services for autistic children under five. Emma spent her life working with children – she loved children, and children loved her. When she started the Early Years Development and Education Degree at USW, it was as if everything fell in to place."

She had a passion for the course, and volunteered all of her spare time at the clinic helping young children with autism.  We had never seen Emma happier.

The initial financial gift from the Abberley family became the foundation for a fundraising initiative in memory of Emma. Friends, family and fellow students have joined forces to raise money and have created a scholarship that will allow one child per year to access the USW Behavioural Analysis Clinic free of charge.

“Emma was such a kind, loving person, who was very unassuming and humble. She had worked with children in various roles; as a nanny, teaching assistant, and then as the manager of a nursery. It confirmed to her that this was how she wanted to spend her life – working with and helping children. Emma was busy planning for the final year of her degree, and she had worked incredibly hard. We were distraught to find that she had bought our Christmas presents in advance so that nothing would distract her from the final stage of her degree, and, of course, the children she was helping at the clinic.”

“People say to me that I am unlucky, but I feel that I am the luckiest Mother in the World to have known Emma for 29 amazing years. I feel privileged to have had her in my life. I take great comfort from the fact that her life has had a huge impact, and I think about all the children she has helped. We had a lovely letter from one of the children she helped - I treasure it.  Her memory will live on through the Emma Abberley Scholarship, and I know she would be overwhelmed that so many people have come forward to run marathons, climb mountains, and fundraise in her name. We want to raise enough money to secure the longevity of the Emma Abberley Scholarship Fund. We know that Emma would be proud of what we have achieved so far, and we want the scholarship to be her legacy.”


Emma Abberley at the USW Autism Clinic






(left) Picture of Emma Abberley volunteering at the Clinic 


Please email Natalie.hughes@southwales.ac.uk , Alumni and Development Office, if you require any further information. 

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