FAMILY members and friends of a loving Hucknall mother who died suddenly while on holiday in Turkey are rallying round to make sure her two children are well cared for.
Maria Butler, of Rockwood Walk, Beauvale Estate, suffered a massive heart attack and internal bleeding in Marmara and died in hospital.
She was accompanied on the holiday by the children, Georgie (13) and Harry (ten), and her ex-partner, Lee Curwood, of Bulwell.
The Red Lion pub on Hucknall High Street, where Maria was a popular customer, has launched a charity effort in aid of a trust fund to support the children.
Born and bred in Hucknall, Maria would have been 34 on Wednesday September 26.
Her parents, Malcolm and Margaret Butler, of Charles Street, Hucknall, who are both in their seventies, have taken over caring for the children.
Maria’s sister, Jackie Fisher (48), who lives in Mansfield, said: “Her death came as such a devastating shock to us because it was so unexpected. She always gave the impression of being a very healthy young woman.”
“Maria suffered the heart attack on August Bank Holiday Monday. My mother flew out straight away to try to get to grips with what had happened and see what she could do to help. She did her best to console the children.
“Attempts were made to resuscitate Maria and she was put on a life support machine in hospital.
“It made things really agonising that Maria was declared clinically brain dead on Friday August 31 but under Muslim law, a life support machine cannot be switched on until all organs have failed. This did not happen until Monday September 3.”
Maria’s body was flown home after an argument with her insurance company but the family’s anguish has been prolonged. This is because it has not yet been possible to arrange the date of the funeral as Maria’s death has had to reported to the Nottinghamshire Coroner.
The two children both have the same syndrome of learning disabilities. Georgie is deaf in both ears and uses sign language, while Harry is deaf in one ear. Both go to Bracken Hill Special School at Kirkby-in-Ashfield.
Jackie said: “Maria was one in a million and she did an amazing job bringing up the children. She lived for the children and her whole life revolved around them.
“She always tried to give them the best of everything and she was a brilliant example to others. She will be very greatly missed by the many people who loved her.
“My mum and dad have responded very bravely to their heartbreaking loss and want to do everything they can for Georgie and Harry.
“So that the children do not feel disoriented in their different surroundings, we are trying to make their new bedroom as familiar to them as possible by putting in their own belongings.”
Jackie said the support already received from Hucknall people for the trust fund had been ‘quite wonderful’. She added: “I am so proud of this community. They have shown that they want to look after one of their own.”
Maria also leaves a twin brother, Gareth, and although Lee is not the children’s father, he is a big part of their lives.
Nick Smith, a close friend of the family for 22 years, said: “Everyone is determined to make sure the children have a life they can look forward to.”
A special fun day in aid of the trust fund will be held at the Red Lion on Sunday (September 16), starting at 12 midday. The attractions include bouncy castles, a barbecue, a Gladiator challenge and entertainment by the Stage Fright band, as well as a raffle and tombola with many prizes.