Woman, 21, killed in crash with van on wrong side 'was bright and bubbly'

A family has paid tribute to a ‘bright and bubbly’ woman who died in a crash as she headed home from a night out.

Grace Payne was with colleagues on November 25 when their car was hit by a van that was driving the wrong way on the A13 in Dagenham, east London.

Grace, who was a HR executive and only graduated this year, died at the scene and the driver, 38, was arrested after being treated for his injuries.

Grace’s parents said: ‘Grace’s death has left us, along with the rest of her family and friends, devastated. We are struggling to come to terms with the fact that our daughter will never be coming home.

‘How can we describe Grace? She made us proud in so many ways.

‘She was caring, compassionate, bright, funny, bubbly – her friends always said that she had the ability to brighten up their day.

‘When she walked out of a room, she left everyone feeling happier than when she had walked in. She always wanted to help, always wanted to make people happy.

‘She loved children, and although happily working in HR, she said her long-term goal was to retrain when she reached 30 and become a primary school teacher.

‘When she helped her dad and brother, Jack, coach the juniors at Brentwood Cricket Club, she was usually entrusted with the youngest age groups, supplying cuddles whenever necessary.

‘Grace graduated from the University of Kent this year with a degree in history and philosophy.

‘She spent much of the summer travelling around Europe with university friends – trips to Italy, Greece, Sicily, Barcelona and Amsterdam.

‘There were family holidays to Devon and Wales. She passed her driving test, celebrated her 21st birthday and started work with an architects firm in London which she instantly loved.

‘It had been a very happy, exciting, busy year. She was a 21-year-old starting to live life to the full after the confinements of Covid.

‘If Grace was out with a group of friends, it was always said she was the one looking after everyone else, making sure they would get home safely.

‘She had joined work colleagues on their regular Thursday night out. Tragically, she never made it home.’

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