‘My daugh­ter would be proud’

By help­ing to ed­u­cate young peo­ple about safe travel, Mar­jorie Marks has given a purpose to her daugh­ter’s gap year mur­der

YOURS (UK) - - Content - By Ca­role Richard­son

When Caro­line Stut­tle an­nounced that she wanted to ex­plore the world be­fore head­ing off to univer­sity, it came as no sur­prise to her mum Mar­jorie. “She got her wanderlust from me,” she ad­mits. “When I was 20 and all my friends were set­tling into of­fice jobs, I went to Italy to work as a nanny which was quite a thing in those days,” adds the 68-year-old re­tired art gallery pro­pri­etor from York. So after gain­ing top A Level grades to se­cure a de­ferred place at Manch­ester Univer­sity to study psy­chol­ogy, Caro­line be­gan plan­ning her gap year ad­ven­ture with Mar­jorie’s full sup­port. “As a par­ent you al­ways worry about your chil­dren. Even now, I worry about Caro­line’s brother, Richard, and he’s nearly 40. But you also bring them up to be in­de­pen­dent and it’s not fair to put your wor­ries onto them,” she says. “You have to warn them about dan­gers and make them aware but you mustn’t flat­ten their spirit. Life is all about learn­ing for your­self.” Be­sides, Caro­line was a clever, sen­si­ble, thought­ful girl who could be re­lied upon to plan her trip care­fully and lis­ten to her mum’s ad­vice. De­spite ini­tially want­ing to visit New York, she changed her mind after Mar­jorie thought it was too

dan­ger­ous and urged her to choose Aus­tralia in­stead. “All the ‘if onlys’ in the world won’t change things…” she adds poignantly as, only three months into her trip Down Un­der, Caro­line (19) was mur­dered by a 32-year-old drug ad­dict at­tempt­ing to grab her bag. Fight­ing back, Caro­line was pushed from a 30ft high bridge in Bundaberg on the Queens­land coast and died in­stantly as she hit the ground. “It was just a case of be­ing in the wrong place at the wrong time,” ex­plains Mar­jorie who had waved her daugh­ter and Caro­line’s sixth form col­lege friend Sarah off from York Sta­tion in Jan­uary 2002. Her last words of warn­ing to them were: “Make sure you stay to­gether.” Once en route, Caro­line texted her to say: ‘Thank you for not cry­ing mum.’ “I put on a brave face then but I cried when I got home,” she adds. Since then the tears have come thick and fast after two po­lice­men knocked on Mar­jorie’s door at 3am on April 10, 2002, to tell her Caro­line had died. Know­ing how metic­u­lously Caro­line had planned her trip from Bangkok to Syd­ney, where she and Sarah would work their way up the Gold Coast to snorkle at the Great Bar­rier Reef, her first re­ac­tion was one of dis­be­lief. “Are you sure?” she asked be­fore the tragic news re­ally sunk in. “You just don’t take it in. I’d been very proud of the way she was so or­gan­ised. She had worked in a pizza restau­rant to fund it and had done a lot of re­search to get every­thing sorted,” she adds. Since set­ting off on her trav­els, Caro­line had phoned her re­li­giously twice a week and it was only the pre­vi­ous lunchtime that she’d said to her mum ‘Have a nice time with David.’ After be­ing sep­a­rated from Caro­line’s fa­ther for five years she’d been in­tro­duced to the wid­ower, who’s now her hus­band, by a mu­tual friend. “Many men would have walked away,” says Mar­jorie, but David stepped in to

’All the ‘if onlys’ in the world won’t change things. It was just a case of Caro­line be­ing in the wrong place at the wrong time’

help her fly Caro­line home, where she was buried in her lo­cal church­yard. “We man­aged to give her a good send off. There must have been 500 peo­ple at her fu­neral. She was liked by every­body. She was so full of en­ergy and so kind; she al­ways saved a bit of pizza on her shift which she gave to a home­less man on her way home.” A de­voted an­i­mal lover, the Beatles song, Hey Jude, was also played at the fu­neral in mem­ory of her late pet res­cue dog Jude. Af­ter­wards Mar­jorie’s way of cop­ing was to keep busy – and within months of her daugh­ter’s death she had a pos­i­tive rea­son to do so. It had emerged that Caro­line had made one fate­ful de­ci­sion which led to her death. When the phone wouldn’t work at the car­a­van camp she and Sarah were stay­ing at, she walked off alone to an­other one nearby to phone her boyfriend. It was here she en­coun­tered her killer, Ian Pre­vite, who was later sen­tenced to life in prison. “It wasn’t even very far…” Mar­jorie adds. De­ter­mined to give young peo­ple as much in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble for trav­el­ling safely, Mar­jorie, Richard and David de­cided to set up a char­ity they called Caro­line’s Rain­bow Foun­da­tion. Mar­jorie’s role has been mainly a fundrais­ing one – and more than £100,000 has been raised over the years to sup­port the pro­gramme to ad­vise young peo­ple on the pit­falls of world travel in the past 15 years. “I got an in­ner strength from some­where. I am sure it came from God,” she adds Run en­tirely by vol­un­teers, Caro­line’s Rain­bow Foun­da­tion has a web­site and a free-todown­load Safer Travel App which of­fers com­pre­hen­sive travel in­for­ma­tion for more than 400 world des­ti­na­tions. Richard also goes into schools, col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties to ad­vise young peo­ple on the pit­falls of world travel. “I know Caro­line would be proud of what we’ve done in her name and help­ing oth­ers has helped us a lot with our grief. We don’t want any young peo­ple to suf­fer like she did or any other par­ents to suf­fer like I did. “Nor do we want to stop young peo­ple trav­el­ling. Our mes­sage is just ‘fol­low your dreams, but do it safely.’ ”

For more de­tails about Caro­line’s Rain­bow Foun­da­tion, visit www.car­o­li­nes­rain­bow­foun­da­tion.org

Much missed: Mar­jorie, and in­set her beloved daugh­ter Caro­line, who was mur­dered on a gap year in Aus­tralia

An­i­mal-lover Caro­line pic­tured above on the fate­ful gap year trip to Aus­tralia, in early years en­joy­ing a ride and Jude her beloved res­cue dog

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