Last month, Felicia Llena, a first-year biology student at the University of St Andrews, passed away at 18. Now, her friends and fellow residents of St Regulus Hall are raising funds to purchase a bench in her honour, as well as raising awareness towards mental health.
Ms Llena spent her first year of University in St Regulus Hall and quickly became close with those students living on the same floor as her.
Two of those students, Darcy Peake and Ilaria Bevan, spoke to The Saint about the close-knit relationship shared between residents, adding that they were like “family.”
Described as a “very special person,” Ms Llena’s friends have played a vital role in supporting one another since her death. In particular, Ms Peake and Ms Bevan mentioned Felicity Dean and commended for her support, as well as Stella Jane, who solely organised Ms Llena’s student-run memorial, which took place last week.
The girls both commented on Ms Jane’s tremendous efforts that went into the memorial, praising her for her honesty and dignity when addressing the circumstances of Ms Llena’s death. When acknowledging that Ms Llena took her own life, Ms Jane “didn’t glamorize anything, she didn’t gloss over anything. She spoke the truth,” according to the girls.
In the hopes of keeping Ms Llena’s memory alive, her friends have set up various fundraising events. These include a coffee and cake afternoon, which will be taking place Thursday 9 May in the St Regulus garden, from 2pm until 5pm.
Ms Bevan and Ms Peake wished to highlight the light-hearted nature of the event, which will include live music, Pimm’s, all-you-can-eat cake, and a relaxed environment catered to everyone.
As well as remembering their friend, the girls want to raise awareness towards mental health and suicide prevention.
As a means of doing this, the afternoon tea will be an informal space where people can join and remember Ms Llena, as well as feeling free to talk about these important issues.
The girls have also set up a fundraising page on Facebook which, since its initial launch on Sunday, has raised 60 per cent of the target funds, reaching over £1,800 with donations from almost 100 people already.
A separate GoFundMe page has also been set up where non-Facebook users can donate.
Initially, Ms Peake and Ms Bevan set out to raise £700, which would allow them to purchase a bench to place in St Mary’s Quad in memory of Ms Llena.
However, due to the overwhelming amount of donations, her friends are now considering purchasing a piano to commemorate her love for music.
When talking to The Saint, the girls spoke fondly of the constant piano heard from Ms Llena’s room.
The girls added that this was one of the many things that made up her “eccentric” personality.
Ms Llena’s friends are also planning a 10km race in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival in aid of her memory, and they state that they want to continue to raise money to help raise awareness for the “bigger picture” of mental health, making the fundraising as wide-spread as possible and encouraging everyone to get involved.
Ms Bevan and Ms Peake also outlined the “amazing” support that has been offered to them by St Regulus Hall in terms of fundraising, stating that the hall has offered help and information to raise as much as possible for the cause.
Ms Bevan added that Ms Llena’s friends “want people to be more aware of each other and make sure everyone checks up on one another. You never know when something will happen.”