Loved ones have gathered to farewell water polo coach Lilie James in a private ceremony with mourners appearing to have been asked to wear colours for the service.
Friends, family and members of the school community were seen in brightly coloured outfits for the memorial at Danebank Anglican School in Hurstville in Sydney‘s south on Friday morning.
A police officer in a high-vis vest was also seen outside the school gates.
A white hearse was seen arriving at the school just after 9.30am. A white casket adorned with flowers was carried inside as loved ones embraced each other and students in a nearby classroom watched on.
NSW Premier Chris Minns was also seen arriving to pay his respects, with as many as 500 mourners at the service.
Loved ones have gathered to farewell water polo coach Lilie James in a private ceremony on Friday morning
A white hearse was seen arriving at the school just after 9.30am
The white casket was adorned with red and pink flowers
NSW Premier Chris Minns and a staffer are seen arriving at the memorial
Mourners are seen at Ms James’ memorial service on Friday
Friends, family and members of the school community were seen in brightly coloured outfits for the memorial at Danebank Anglican School in Hurstville in Sydney’s south on Friday morning
Loved ones are seen embracing each other outside the school as Ms James was laid to rest
Mourners are believed to have been asked to wear colours and not black at Ms James’ memorial
Ms James’ family said in a statement the 21-year-old was an ‘independent, vibrant young woman’ who lived her life to the fullest.
‘On top of working and studying Lilie loved coaching and playing water polo. She loved to dance. Even with her busy schedule, she always still made time to support her brother Max, her friends and family,’ the statement read.
‘We cannot thank the community enough for their thoughts, prayers, generosity and messages through this difficult time.
‘From the bottom of our hearts we thank you for the many great memories we all share of Lilie.
Emotional scenes were seen outside Danebank on Friday morning
As many as 500 guests turned up at the memorial to pay their respects to Ms James
‘Lilie James we are so proud of you and thank you for sharing a wonderful and jam-packed 21 years together.’
Ms James, 21, had graduated from Danebank in 2020 before going on to become a sports coach at St Andrew’s Cathedral School.
As per the wishes of Ms James’ family, the memorial at Danebank will be for friends and the school community only.
It will also be livestreamed into St Andrew’s Cathedral School for students and teachers to view together.
Some students from St Andrew’s were also seen arriving at the memorial service in their uniforms.
Police were also seen outside the school gates
Some students from St Andrew’s Cathedral School were also seen arriving at the memorial service in their uniforms
Mourners were seen donning colourful outfits as they paid their respects to Ms James
Ms James was working as an assistant water polo instructor for the elite inner-city school when she was found dead with horrific head injuries inside the campus gymnasium toilets on October 25.
Students left flowers and heartfelt handwritten notes at St Andrew’s after Ms James’ death.
The 21-year-old was described as a ‘coach like no other’, and a young woman who had boundless energy and a heart full of kindness.
Others claimed Ms James was a teacher who every student could rely on to talk to ‘no matter what it was about’.
She was also described as an incredibly positive and supportive teacher who made a ‘significant impact’ on those she coached.
The body of 24-year-old Paul Thijssen, who also worked at the school, was recovered a day later.
The pair had reportedly been in a relationship for a number of weeks in the lead-up to Ms James’ death.
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1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)