Ellie Maxwell, the founder of Svitac and Firefly, tragically died in 2009, of complications from cancer. Ellie’s life was cut short, but her work continues. Through her initiative, Firefly & Svitac continue to thrive.
Ellie Maxwell, who died aged 32, of complications from cancer, was a quietly spoken social activist with a grace, laconic wit and purposefulness that guided her life and work.
At 21, she founded Firefly International, a Scottish charity whose mission is to foster multi‐ethnic youth projects in Bosnia and elsewhere. To fund Firefly in the beginning, she enlisted fellow Edinburgh University students to canvass the neighbourhood. Edinburgh pubgoers were the most generous early givers. Later, the Princess of Wales Charitable Trust joined the list, giving substantial support. As Firefly grew in impact in Bosnia, Ellie was awarded Young Achiever of the Year (1997) at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, by the Queen, and Catholic Woman of the Year 1998.
“For social change to occur,” Ellie wrote, “people’s networks of friends, acquaintances and colleagues must cross the boundaries of race, nationality or language, along which they are often based”.
An excerpt from Ellie’s obituary by John Stickney published in The Guardian, 28 April 2009