A FAMILY has paid tribute to a “very popular young girl who lit up the room” following her tragic death last month at the age of just 16.

Lauren Hawkins died at Poole Hospital three days after she went into cardiac arrest following an incident reportedly involving drugs at Redcotts Park in Wimborne on July 6.

In a statement her family said the Queen Elizabeth’s School pupil was looking forward to going to college and had “all of her life ahead of her”.

“We are all devastated at the sudden tragic death of Lauren at the tender age of just 16 and with all of her life ahead of her,” her family said.

“Nothing prepares you for the death of someone so young who was loved by everybody.

“She was a very popular young girl who lit up the room.”

A talented performer, Lauren spent last year singing and dancing with the West End Kids (WEK) troupe in London, having been one of only two chosen from 70 hopefuls at a WEK regional audition.

Bournemouth Echo: Lauren Hawkins performing with the West End Kids troupeLauren Hawkins performing with the West End Kids troupe

Her involvement with the troupe required her to be up at 4am every Saturday to be taken to the coach station by her mother to get to the capital for a day of training, returning at 10pm. Within a term of practices, she successfully auditioned for the main WEK elite troupe.

The former Allenbourn Middle and Merley First School pupil took part in WEK's full summer 2019 programme, including West End Live in Trafalgar Square, Summertime and Pride in Hyde Park, Regent Street Festival, Camp Bestival at Lulworth Castle, WWF annual ball at The Dorchester with Judi Dench and David Walliams's The Art of Wishes annual ball at the Royal Horticultural Hall.

Locally, she had been at Spotlight Dance Academy for 14 years, dancing and going to classes most week nights and supporting their annual shows.

In recent years she helped teach the younger children after passing all of her dancing grade exams with honours and distinctions by age 11. She also performed with Mainstage Wimborne.

Lauren’s talents saw her claim first place in many categories at national dance and singing championships.

And for the past 10 years she took on lead roles in the Wessex Association of Dance Schools event at the Pavillion Theatre.

Earlier this year she left the WEK troupe to concentrate on her school work ahead of sitting her GCSEs but these were cancelled due to the pandemic.

With school closed and no dancing sessions taking place, she focused on what she was going to study at college, completed her CV to get a part-time job and started redecorating her room.

Her family said they want to warn others who could face a similar “heartbreaking” experience like they have been through.

“This tragedy is every parent and grandparent’s worst nightmare and it could have happened to the teenagers of anyone reading this,” her family said. “You let them go out and this happens.

“Lauren had a cardiac arrest and was then resuscitated by the paramedics and taken to Poole Hospital. She was then on life support as the doctors tried to stabilise her and we prayed for a miracle but it was heartbreaking to be told that there was no hope. We had to turn off her ventilator and life support. We were all with her when she died.”

They added: “With all schools broken up now and summer holidays ahead please warn your teenagers of the dangers of drugs.

“At the moment it is unclear why and how a lethal mixture of potent substances, which triggered a cardiac arrest, came to be within her system.

“A thorough police investigation is under way to get to the truth of what happened and a coroner’s inquest is to be held.

“We have been deeply touched by all the kind messages and tributes dedicated to Lauren, which have given us much comfort.”

The family ask for their privacy to be respected as they try to come to terms with the devastation of Lauren’s death.

Four people – a 17-year-old and two 16-year-old boys from Wimborne and a woman in her 20s from Bournemouth – have been arrested in connection with the incident, on suspicion of the supply of a controlled drug of class A.

All four have been released under police investigation.

Anyone with information about the incident, should contact Dorset Police on 101.