A MOTHER of three whose dying wish was to meet Sir Cliff Richard has died.

Tributes have been paid to Denise Bennett, 50, who died on Saturday after a long battle with cancer.

The former nursery assistant, of Pinewood Avenue, Connah’s Quay, fought the disease for seven years but was told by doctors last year there was nothing more they could do for her.

In November her friends had tried to arrange a meeting with Sir Cliff. She had been a fan of the 70-year-old entertainer since she was 10 and had seen him in concert a number of times.

Her brother, Shane Rigby, said: “She did not get to meet him.

“She got a reply which said he was away on tour and was busy, but it is nice we heard back.”

Shane, 53, and his wife Liz had helped care for Denise along with other family members and friends.

Shane said: “She was a bubbly person and everybody knew her. Denise was the life of the party. She remained happy until the last few weeks. She was a very brave person.

“She will be dearly missed by her family, especially her children. She was a real character and one of a kind.”

Her children – Matthew, 28, Dirk, 25, and Dean, 21 – had already been left heartbroken after the death from cancer of their father, Denise’s former husband, Arthur, on Christmas Day 2008.

Denise, who had worked at Dee Road Infant School, was set to become a grandmother as Dirk and his partner, Carrie, of Rhos, near Wrexham, are expecting a daughter this month.

Shane said: “She never made it to be a grandmother. That is a great shame. She was really looking forward to that.”

The former Connah’s Quay High School pupil was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago while she was studying child care at Deeside College.

The funeral will take place at St Mark’s Church, Connah’s Quay, at 10.30am on Wednesday, March 30, with family flowers only and donations to Deeside Macmillan nurses.