Born in Beijing, China on 27 May 2000, Haydn enjoyed school, sports, music, friendships, travel, and family. Although his upbringing was privileged, he was attracted to the humble, simpler things in life. Even with his relatively modest pocket money, Haydn seemed happier saving or spending on others than on himself.
When Haydn was three years old and his older brother was five, the family adopted his sister, who was four at the time. Haydn instantly offered to give Sian his room so that she could have her own. That marked the beginning of a close and endearing friendship between them. Later, when Karyn became pregnant with the family’s youngest son, it was Haydn who would run back from kindergarten to massage her feet or bring her ginger tea. After Haydn’s passing on May 19, 2020, friends of Haydn put together a word cloud of all the things that made Haydn happy. One of the largest words, because it was used most often, was ‘family’… alongside ‘friends’, ‘football’, ‘Arsenal’, ‘British slang’ and ‘service to others’. Below that came ‘China’, ‘pizza’, ‘smoothies’, ‘music’, ‘art’, ‘travel’ and ‘laughter’. There were other serious and amusing additions to the list, however the largest word, that made it to the centre of the word cloud, which could only have been known to his closest friends, was ‘prayer’.
In 2016, Haydn moved to the UK to complete his final two years of high school at Wellington College, where he received awards for academic excellence and a Service Award for his support to the local community. Haydn then spent a gap year in both China and Chile. In China, he was actively involved as an animator of Junior Youth groups, and in Chile, he served as a gardener and then in security at the Bahá’í House of Worship in Santiago, while learning Spanish.
In September 2019, Haydn was due to start his undergraduate studies in architecture at UCL in London. That plan was curtailed when he was diagnosed two months earlier with a 4cm brain tumour. At the time he was visiting his family in Canada, and he subsequently spent some five months undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation in Toronto. This was followed by further treatment on a clinical trial in New York, but without success. In March 2020, Haydn returned with his parents and three siblings to their lakeside cottage north of Ottawa, Canada, to spend his remaining weeks in palliative care at home. He passed away peacefully, in a place he so loved, surrounded by those he loved, one week before his 20th birthday.
Karyn Robarts and Emily Olson created this short, powerful video in tribute to Haydn.