Remembering a playful spirit

7 Mar


The first person to read a new post on this site was invariably my daughter, Anushka, who has tragically died, aged 24.

A keen blogger herself, Nush was inordinately proud of my small achievements and always sent a message of encouragement or an insightful comment when I had anything new to say. Although this is a professional, rather than a personal platform (and most of my readers did not know my daughter) I have felt unable to resume this activity without remembering her.

Nush was a passionate, thoughtful young woman with a fierce social conscience and a life-long commitment to environmental and political justice. A creative and intelligent student, she planned to enter teaching but was ultimately overwhelmed by a world that often seems to value standardised attainment and conformity over people’s innate value and individuality.

She had struggled for years with the kind of learning difficulties that are still under-recognised: attention deficit disorder, dyslexia and dyspraxia, and since her mid-teens had suffered from debilitating episodes of the poor mental health that would mercilessly ravage her self-confidence and undermine her plans.

In spite of her struggles, Nush, a natural extrovert, was a truly generous and loyal friend to an extraordinary number of her peers; and a dedicated daughter, sister and cousin. She was a playful spirit, most at home in the world of summer music and arts festivals; or travelling around India with her best friends.

She took a keen interest in my work, profoundly understanding the importance of protecting space to play and honouring children’s self expression over whatever the adult world thinks is best for them. She would have been a wonderful teacher.

Nush is terribly missed, and this site is dedicated to her memory.

Adrian Voce


Anushka Natalia van Staden-Voce
24 November 1987 – 8 August 2012



8 Responses to “Remembering a playful spirit”

  1. Alice Ferguson 7 March 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    Adrian. Just so very very sorry to hear this. She sounds like a very wonderful and deeply loved person and I can’t imagine how you cope with that loss. Hopefully writing about it will help a little. What you say about the world not being kind to those who don’t fit a certain mould resonates deeply as my own daughter also has some of these qualities and I do worry for her. Wishing you strength, Alice.


    • adrianvoce 12 March 2013 at 10:48 am #

      Thanks Alice, that’s very kind. I hope your daughter will be ok.


  2. Perry 9 March 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    Hello Adrian – Thanks for sharing your memories and feelings about Nush. All too often in this world people have separated self, family and livelihood, and it results in odd behaviour where people compromise their values on a daily basis. I think being open and authentic about ourselves is a better way to be. Thank you for showing us how. Love to you and your family Perry


  3. Claire Morley 18 March 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    Hi Adrian, I read this the other day and struggled to find the right words, then gave up. Back, now, I just want to send my sympathy. Your daughter sounds like a very beautiful person, talented, sensitive and supportive. Such a sad loss for you and all your family. So wonderful that you are carrying on, working to improve the lives of children and young people through fighting for their right to play. Thank you.


  4. Helen Dewdney (@ComplainingCow) 11 March 2016 at 4:17 pm #

    Adrian, I was just Googling you to pass on your details to a colleague at the school where I am a Governor. I’ve been out of the play sector world for the last few years (no doubt back when and if there is funding again for our sector!) so have only seen this by chance. I just wanted to pass on my condolences. I was so shocked and saddened to read this page. Thoughts are with you and all the very best.


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