AN INSPIRATIONAL woman whose son was killed in a tragic accident has died.
Claire Saunders showed huge courage when her son Jack, 18, died after being swept to sea in Blackpool nine months ago.
She raised thousands of pounds for charity in the aftermath of the tragedy and tributes have been paid to her energy and generous spirit.
Claire lost her own battle for life at Nightingale House Hospice on Monday at the age of 55. She had only been diagnosed with a terminal illness about a month ago.
Jack, of Old Farm Road, had been in Blackpool with a group of 14 friends from Wrexham.
He was walking along the front at North Shore late on the Saturday when he was hit by a massive wave and carried out to sea.
Despite her own grief and with the strong backing of scores of Jack’s many friends, Barnsley-born Mrs Saunders launched into a hectic round of fundraising for the Welsh Warrior charity, which supports soldiers wounded in Afghanistan. She chose this cause as a tribute to Jack, whose ambition had been to join the armed forces.
In April family friend Sam Borthwick, 19, did a sponsored swim at Wrexham’s Waterworld, raising £2,000 for Welsh Warriors.
Since news of her death began to circulate scores of tributes have been posted on Jack’s Facebook page, which his mum had maintained in his memory.
Typical of them is one from Steffan Duda which reads: “Rest in peace Claire you were an amazingly kind hearted person who was always smiling no matter what, you will be missed by everyone that knew you.”
Mrs Saunders’ sister, Anne Lawrence, said: “She showed courage, strength and dignity right to the end.
“In fact she arranged every detail of her own funeral, right down to the music.
“She also managed to keep her sense of humour.
“The offers of help since she died have been mind-boggling and while she was in the hospice they were overwhelmed with calls from people wishing her well – most of them young people who were Jack’s friends.”
Mrs Saunders’s next-door neighbour Joan Seddon said: “I was a good friend of Claire’s and watched Jack grow from a young boy into a handsome, charismatic young man who she was justly proud of.
“After his death all his friends kept in touch with her, which shows the kind of person she was.
“I am dreadfully sorry to hear of her death and am very upset by it.”
Hazel Hunt, of Abergavenny, who founded the Welsh Warrior charity in memory of her own son Richard who was killed in Afghanistan, said: “I spoke to Claire over the phone on a number of occasions about her fundraising work, although I never met her in person.
“I was planning to do this early next month when I was going to visit Wrexham to bring her a Welsh Warrior banner and tee-shirts.
“When I last spoke to her she told me she was in a hospice and that her illness was terminal but I am still shocked to hear of her death and I am so sorry.
“If only more people had her generosity of spirit the world would be a better place.”
Local councillor Mark Pritchard, who knew the family well, said: “She was a wonderful and genuine lady and even in the difficult time after losing her son she became involved in raising money for a charity supporting injured soldiers.”
Mrs Saunders’s funeral will be held at St Giles’ parish church in Wrexham at 11am on Friday, August 6, followed by commital at Wrexham Crematorium.
The family has decided a fundraising event she was planning in aid of Welsh Warrior in Jack’s memory will go ahead at Brymbo Cricket Club at 7pm on the same date.