Nfld. & Labrador

New England Patriots mail letter to family of superfan Victoria Best after suicide

Famous sports team acknowledges the death of Newfoundland fan, by sending her family a letter of condolences and some memorabilia.

Letter, memorabilia arrive in mail after RCMP officer, friend's attempts to contact NFL club

Victoria Best, who died in December after years of battling mental health issues, was honoured by the New England Patriots football team recently. Best was a superfan of the NFL club. (Facebook/Bryan Vaughan)

One of the world's best-known sports franchises has acknowledged the death of a fan in small town Newfoundland, by sending her family a letter of condolence and some memorabilia to display in her honour.

Victoria Best — a music instructor, volunteer and mental health advocate from Clarenville, died by suicide in December after a lifelong battle with her illness.

Anyone who knew Best was aware that she was a massive fan of the New England Patriots NFL team, and its quarterback Tom Brady.

That's why her friend and fellow Clarenville teacher Richard Churchill tried so hard to get in touch with the franchise to see if it could somehow honour her passing.

The text inside the letter to Best's family expressed sympathy for their loss. (Submitted by Bryan Vaughan)

With his attempts going nowhere, Bay Roberts RCMP Const. Bryan Vaughan got involved.

He explained in online messages how big a fan Best was, and how she was supposed to attend a game before her life was tragically cut short.

"I started doing some digging on the internet and through Twitter and I eventually found their social media person. I told him Victoria's story," he said.

Package arrives

Then one day in late March, Vaughan checked his mailbox to find a package with the Patriots' crest, containing framed photos of the team, banners and decals — and a personalized letter.

"I couldn't believe that they sent it because it was just one conversation. He asked me for my address, I gave it and that was the end of it."

Const. Bryan Vaughan worked with Victoria Best's friend Richard Churchill to get a response from the New England Patriots. (Paula Gale/CBC)

The letter expressed sympathy for Best's passing, adding "we understand Victoria was a loyal and passionate Patriots fan and she will be truly missed."

Vaughan arranged a meeting with Best's father on Saturday to give him the items.

"Once I arrived at his house he saw that I had brought condolences from the New England Patriots and he was very happy with it. He expressed his gratitude that the Patriots were responding," Vaughan said.

"He said he was going to frame it, and put it up in the rec room that he created in Victoria's honour and hang it up on the wall for everyone to see."

Photos of the 2018 and championship-winning 2016 teams were also included. Best was a huge fan of the Patriots, especially of quarterback Tom Brady. (Submitted by Bryan Caughan)

Vaughan said while it's a small gesture, the letter and package means a lot to the family as it shows the club appreciated Best's support and mourn her passing along with everyone else.

"It just shows that they acknowledge that she was here, that she was a fan and that she was important to them," he said.

"Even though she's just one fan in Newfoundland, she was somebody that mattered to them as well."

About the Author

Geoff Bartlett

Contributor

Geoff Bartlett is an educator and journalist in Corner Brook.

now