Grandad mourns youngest victim

By Andrew Koubaridis

The Kiwi grandfather of a 14-year-old girl killed in the Norwegian massacre has been left devastated after learning yesterday of her death.

Rex Matthews, father of Sharidyn Svebakk-Bohn's mother, Vanessa, is now trying to raise money to attend the funeral in Norway.

Sharidyn was the youngest of 68 mainly young people murdered by Anders Breivik, the right-wing extremist who went on a rampage early last Saturday (NZT) on Utoya Island after earlier setting off a bomb in downtown Oslo.

She was on the island for a summer camp organised by Norway's governing Labour Party, which she had recently joined.

An extended family member told the Herald last night that Mr Matthews, who lives in Porirua, was devastated by her death and would probably try to get to the funeral, which would be at least a week away.

The family member had looked into what flights were available, but they were all very expensive at such a short notice.

In a statement yesterday, Sharidyn's parents said she was a "courageous young lady" who took every challenge with ease.

She was born in Palmerston North, but is of Norwegian descent and had lived in Norway since she was a baby.

"She was a beautiful, caring and vigorous girl and was the oldest child of three," her family said.

"With her big heart she had a lot of empathy for others. She was loyal and very good at giving support and comfort when others were facing difficulties.

"Her smile could light up a whole room, and she made everyone she met smile as well."

Her parents said they were proud of the way Sharidyn got involved in worthy causes and stood out from the crowd, writing letters and voicing her opinion.

"Now she has been taken away from us, and our sorrow and grief are bottomless. She was extremely excited about going to Utoya for the first time after being a member of AUF [the Labour Party] for the last year or so.

"From telephone conversations and a constant flow of text messages in the days leading up to her death, we know she loved being together with her friends on the island, which is why it is difficult to comprehend that her life ended so tragically."

Sharidyn was listed as missing after the shooting, and her death was not confirmed until Wednesday. Her family said they suffered "excruciating pain" waiting for news about her fate, but were now comforted by knowing she had been found and identified.

In an internet message, Vanessa Svebakk said her daughter -nicknamed Sissi- turned 14 two days before she went to the island.

In lieu of flowers, the family have asked mourners to give money in Sharidyn's name for a children's camp.

Norwegian Labour MP Torgeir Micaelsen has known the family for about three years. He meet them through Mrs Svebakk, who was involved in local politics in their home town, Drammen.

"She [Sharidyn] was one of a kind," he said. "It's terrible, just terrible."

- NZ Herald

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