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Leading Lady of A-T in France dies

It is with very great sadness that we report the recent death after a short illness of Mireille Gervasoni.  Mireille, whose son David had A-T, set up APRAT, our sister organisation in France, and for many years was the driving force behind it. Our chief executive knew her well and writes:

“Mireille was a remarkable woman. She had incredible energy and determination, running APRAT almost single-handedly, while at the same time looking after a son with A-T and taking forward a career as a historian of ancient Rome, in which she divided her time between her home in France and Italy, which she loved very much. At the same time she did much to look after her mother who is now over 100, not to mention the family dog.

“APRAT, with its regular family weekends, research conferences, numerous publications and support both for families with and research, was probably the largest and most active A-T organisation outside the English-speaking world. Two years ago, with our blessing, they published our clinical guidance document in French and promoted in the French-speaking world through clinical conferences

“Importantly Mireille maintained excellent relationships with other A-T groups outside France, with regular visitors from France, the UK, Spain and North Africa at her Family weekends. Having had British cousins when she was young, she was fond of Britain and particularly positive about and supportive of the work of the A-T Society and also of Professor Malcolm Taylor in Birmingham. She was particularly helpful to me when I was starting, sharing her extensive knowledge of people, organisations and research work in the A-T world.

“Although she could seem something of a dynamo – you wondered where all that energy came from, given her small, spare frame – Mireille had an incredible human warmth and an ability to engage with people as though she were not simultaneously organising 20 different things. She loved spending time with her family and many friends from across Europe and the world. She was very close to her (only) son and was understandably distraught following his death two years ago.

“Along with her many achievements in pushing forward A-T research and clinical care, not to mention the hugely positive effect she has had on many people’s lives, Mireille leaves behind a great hole. Everyone who lives with A-T though, has in some way benefitted from her life, and those who knew her better are the richer for it. Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband Carlo and the rest of her family and friends. Her funeral takes place on 6 March.”