Brendan, Sandy, Shane and Alex Van Ansem on the chair made for their beloved sister and daughter - Sjaan. Photo: Pixali Photography
Brendan, Sandy, Shane and Alex Van Ansem on the chair made for their beloved sister and daughter - Sjaan. Photo: Pixali Photography

Town's touching tribute for Forest Hill woman taken too soon

A HAND-CRAFTED sunflower chair is the perfect place to watch everything go by - a place that Sjaan Van Ansem would have loved.

It's exactly what Sjaan would have done - sat back and watched the world go by.

On Saturday, the second anniversary of Sjaan's passing, the Forest Hill family and community members came together to remember and celebrate her life with the unveiling of the chair created in her honour.

On December 12, 2018, Sjaan, 21, was found unconscious in the family's spa after having a medical episode.

Her brother Alex performed CPR, which ultimately gave the Forest Hill family another two days with their beloved daughter and sister.

Sjaan's chair is a result of unexpected funds raised at a Forest Hill trivia night in 2019, which was never about raising money, but spending time with friends and family.

Forest Hill trivia night spokeswoman Jane O'Shannessy speaking with friends and family of the late Sjaan Van Ansem. Photo: Pixali Photography.
Forest Hill trivia night spokeswoman Jane O'Shannessy speaking with friends and family of the late Sjaan Van Ansem. Photo: Pixali Photography.

 

"Unexpectedly we actually made some money so then began the journey of what to do with the money," Committee spokeswoman Jane O'Shannesy said.

"We all agreed it had to be something special and wanted to give back to our community and create a huge memory for everyone."

The committee decided a chair overlooking the town, and decorated with Sjaan's favourite flowers, would be the perfect idea.

"This just felt right to acknowledge and remember such a beautiful young lady," Jane said.

Sjaan Van Ansem, 21, “Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody”.
Sjaan Van Ansem, 21, “Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody”.

 

In an emotional unveiling on Saturday night, the Van Ansem family, their friends and Forest Hill community members raised a glass as the masterpiece built by Ironic Art was revealed.

Sjaan's dad, Shane Van Ansem, said his daughter was a "good kid" and that the family were overwhelmed by the gesture.

"People were her life," Shane said.

"I can just imagine her sitting here and watching every bugger going past."

Forest Hill committee members unveiled the chair built in memory of Sjaan Van Ansem. Photo: Pixali Photography.
Forest Hill committee members unveiled the chair built in memory of Sjaan Van Ansem. Photo: Pixali Photography.

 

Sjaan is remembered as a young woman who would go out of her way to help other people.

Her mum Sandy echoed Shane's words, and said Sjaan would love that she is still a part of the Forest Hill community with a special chair at Anzac Park.

"She would love the fact she could sit here and see everybody doing everything," Sandy said.

The artwork, created by Iconic Art, at Gatton, in memory of Sjaan Van Ansem.
The artwork, created by Iconic Art, at Gatton, in memory of Sjaan Van Ansem.

 

The chair has a plaque with Sjaan's special saying "Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody".

The chair was built by Kim Duff of Ironic Art, who said it was the first memorial chair he had built.

"Every job is different, and this is specially designed and made for the Van Ansems and Forest Hill community - it's a pretty special project," Kim said.



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