THE 21-year-old daughter of former Formula One champion Jody Scheckter has died following a suspected accidential overdose.

Breaking the tragic news on Instagram, Jody’s wife Clare said they were “utterly heartbroken and totally devastated” to announce that Ila died in her sleep at home on their farm near Overton last Thursday, two years after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

The couple, who have five other children and own Laverstoke Park Farm, said Ila was battling with addiction after developing epilepsy following major brain surgery, which Clare said resulted in her “having extreme anxiety and fear of seizures”.

She added: “She lost her battle with addiction in trying to numb the fear and feelings that overwhelmed her. Ila found many wonderful friends and had so much support from the fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous.”

She described her daughter as a “larger than life character” who was “funny, wacky, outrageous, beautiful, smart, compassionate, empathetic, loyal and with a smile that could light up a room”.

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However, she added: “She was also full of self-doubt and anxiety. She saw the good in everyone else and managed to touch the hearts of so many people in ways that she never realised. Whilst she was loved by so many, she struggled to feel that love. But she was adored by so many and the outpouring of love to the family from friends and people whose lives she impacted has meant so much to us.”

Clare told of how the family went on a trip to Monza in September for the 40th anniversary of his F1 championship, with Ila “bravely and determinedly” joining her parents, four brothers and younger sister, despite being really unwell.

“It was the last time the whole family were united and together we celebrated this milestone,” said Clare.

Ila died in her sleep on Thursday night, just before she was due to have treatment the following morning.

Romsey Advertiser: Laverstoke Park Farm near Overton (Credit: Laverstoke Park Farm)Laverstoke Park Farm near Overton (Credit: Laverstoke Park Farm)

Describing her daughter’s decision to seek treatment as “brave”, Clare said: “Ila wanted to be clean, healthy and happy and have a long and purposeful life. She had recently enrolled at the University of Westminster to study psychology for counselling as she wanted to be able to help others with their mental health.”

She added: “Aged only 21, Ila has been taken from our lives too soon and the pain our family feel at her loss is unbearable. Ila is at peace, no longer suffering the fear of further brain surgery – awake which terrified her, seizures, chemotherapy, radiation etc.”

She asked for people to respect the family’s privacy to grieve the loss of their “deeply loved daughter, sister and aunt”.

Hugo Scheckter, Ila's brother, posted a moving tribute on Instagram, writing: "Ila, I will miss your brilliantly naughty sense of humour, winding you up over the years and singing along to cheesy songs in the car.

"Ila was so unfairly troubled for so many years and the only positive is that she’s now at peace and pain free. She wanted to get better so badly and fought to do so. We are all gutted and miss her terribly. Details of the memorial to follow, all welcome. RIP Ila Scheckter 1997-2019 will love you always."

A private funeral and memorial service will be held at a later date.

Anyone wishing to make a donation in Ila's memory is asked to consider two charities and subjects close to Ila's heart: Centrepoint for homeless young people and Action on Addiction

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Clare Scheckter's statement in full:

"Our precious Ila 💖💖We are utterly heartbroken and totally devastated to announce the passing of Ila.

"Ila had been diagnosed with a brain tumour two years ago totally out of the blue and subsequently underwent major brain surgery. In recent months, she had developed epilepsy which resulted in her having extreme anxiety and fear of seizures. She lost her battle with addiction in trying to numb the fear and feelings that overwhelmed her. Ila found many wonderful friends and had so much support from the fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous.

"Ila was a larger than life character in many ways - funny, wacky, outrageous, beautiful, smart, compassionate, empathetic, loyal and with a smile that could light up a room. But she was also full of self-doubt and anxiety. She saw the good in everyone else and managed to touch the hearts of so many people in ways that she never realised. Whilst she was loved by so many, she struggled to feel that love. But she was adored by so many and the outpourings of love to the family from friends and people whose lives she impacted has meant so much to us.

"In September, despite being really unwell, she bravely and determinedly joined Jody, me and her four brothers and younger sister in Monza for the 40th anniversary of Jody’s F1 World Championship. It was the last time the whole family were united and together we celebrated this milestone.

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"Ila died in her sleep on Thursday night at home from a suspected accidental overdose, having made the brave decision to go into treatment the next morning. Ila wanted to be clean, healthy and happy and have a long and purposeful life. She had recently enrolled at the University of Westminster to study Psychology for Counselling as she wanted to be able help others with their mental health.

"Aged only 21, Ila has been taken from our lives too soon and the pain our family feel at her loss is unbearable. Ila is at peace, no longer suffering the fear of further brain surgery – awake which terrified her, seizures, chemotherapy, radiation etc.

"Please respect our privacy to grieve the loss of our deeply loved daughter, sister and aunt. There will be a private family funeral and a memorial service later."

Tribute from Ila's sister Poppy 

"Ila my beautiful sister I’m heartbroken you were taken from me so soon. Addiction stole you from me. You were the most special person.

"You loved me when I didn’t have any love for myself. You would always check if I was okay even if you weren’t. Life will never be the same without you - you should be here to watch me grow up, see our nephews become young men, help me one day to pick out my wedding dress and to meet my kids but I know you’ll be looking over me and I hope to make you proud.

Romsey Advertiser: (Credit: Poppy Scheckter)(Credit: Poppy Scheckter)

"The family will never be complete with out you. I loved you and your shit jokes so much. I should of been able to see the day you were free from suffering because that’s what you aimed for, all you wanted was to try your best to be a good role model to me. You made me the person I am today and you gave the best advice even if you didn’t take it yourself.

"I wish I could hear your voice one last time and give you one last hug even if you did make me be the big spoon. Hours before you were taken from me, we were dancing and laughing together in my room I’ll never forget how happy you made me. I love you so much Ila, nothing will break our bond. I hope you are happy and peaceful up there. Rest easy." 

• For emotional support, contact the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person.