GEORGE NEWS - The sudden death of a 2018 York High matriculant, Joel Symons, on Sunday 7 July has left his family and friends reeling in shock.
Joel's mother, George Herald online sub-editor Dot Symons, is devastated by her eldest son's death.
He passed away in his bed during the early hours of Sunday morning following a short illness that seemed like flu.
Joel would have turned 19 next week Tuesday, 16 July, and had already received his gift and birthday card from his grandparents in Durban where the family spent the past holiday.
Towards the end of their stay in Durban, Joel became ill and received antibiotic treatment for influenza A. He was feeling so much better last Thursday when they left for George, that he offered to drive, but along the way started feeling ill again. Symons took him to a doctor in Queenstown, and he again received medication.
He was not responding to the medicine, so on Saturday morning in George his mother took him to the doctor once again, who diagnosed Joel with croup and swine flu. "After the medication he seemed to perk up a bit and tried to eat a light meal, but could not keep it down. He went to bed later that evening, but was very restless," said Symons.
He passed away in his sleep.
"Joel loved cricket, but he was never good at playing it. Raymond Bartie, who was his teacher at Outeniqua Primary, taught him to keep score. He qualified as an SWD umpire four years ago."
He also played some hockey in primary school and in high school started playing soccer, and loved it.
"He could not get enough," said Symons. "He was an easy child, clever, witty and analytical, and thoughtful towards people. He did not like to be the centre of attention at all."
Joel acted as sound engineer at Liberty Church where the family are members.
Timoteo Alicino, director of The Sound Kitchen, who is in charge of sound at the church, said Joel was selfless. "He was a ready-to-help, no-fuss, thankful, dependable human being with a great passion for soccer and literature."
Bartie said Joel was an energetic child who was uncompromising in his Christian norms. "He always put other people before himself. He was an excellent story writer and I always encouraged him to write."
Joel started working for KD Maintenance this year, where he did so well that the owner was planning on making him a manager.
Symons, a single parent, said Joel set a good example for his younger brother and sister, Luke (14) and Danni (10).
He leaves behind his mother, siblings as well as grandparents, and extended family.
A memorial service will be held for Joel at Liberty Church, 88 Hope Street, on Friday 12 July at 11:00.
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