Valentina Sanna: 'Angel' ballerina, 14, dies from meningitis

Valentina Sanna Image copyright Club Wow
Image caption Valentina Sanna had performed at London's Royal Albert Hall and taken part in the Ballet World Cup

A talented 14-year-old ballerina who died on New Year's Day from meningitis was "an angel" and a "precious gift", her family said.

Valentina Sanna, from Liverpool, died in Sardinia after travelling to the country to see relatives for the Christmas holidays.

Her father, Dr Alberto Sanna, said the disease hit "like a bullet" and "nothing could be done".

Dr Sanna and his wife Paola have thanked well-wishers for their support.

He said: "We are devastated, but we know we were given Valentina as a precious gift.

"She was very modest and a quiet child. She never made big statements about anything. She tip-toed through life in a literal and metaphorical sense.

"She was very mature. Most people called her an angel."

Image copyright Mauro Nieddu
Image caption The teenager is survived by two sisters aged 17 and nine

Valentina's parents first became worried when she complained of a severe headache. Three days later she died in hospital.

"It's the equivalent of a bullet shot by someone. There's no rational explanation. It doesn't make sense to us," Dr Sanna said.

Valentina was born in Italy but raised in the UK, living in Liverpool and later in London. She studied classical ballet in both cities.

Dr Sanna thanked her tutors Lorna Proctor, Alice Crawford, Joanne Bond and Natalia Kremen for the joy they had brought his daughter.

Image copyright Mauro Nieddu
Image caption Valentina was described as "quiet and modest" by her family

She performed in The Nutcracker at London's Royal Albert Hall and also represented England in the recent Ballet World Cup in Portugal.

Dr Sanna, who runs a Liverpool-based teaching charity called Early Music as Education, said he wanted to start a new charity focussing on dance tuition in memory of his daughter.

"Valentina was very central to our family life. A really beautiful human being," he said.

"We will set up a charity in her memory to help aspiring classical dancers achieve their dreams without forgetting the values of respect, love, commitment and elegance Valentina cherished so much."

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