A FAMILY, which includes two of Flintshire’s senior county councillors, have expressed their grief at the sudden loss of a family member and have explained how they are striving to come to terms with it. 

Sarah Healey, daughter of councillors David and Gladys Healey, tragically died after collapsing during a funeral in November, 2023.

She was aged just 39 and mum to three children.

Councillor Gladys Healey, chair of Flintshire Council, explained how the tragedy happened.

“Our daughter grew up in north Wales and went to Castell Alun High School as a student," she said. "However, for the last eleven years she had been living in Wraysbury in Staines (Surrey) with her partner, James, and three children aged 16, 7 and 6.

“Our family went down to the south of England for the funeral of the father of James which took place in Slough Crematorium. Sarah was one of those who spoke in tribute to the father of James.

“However, Sarah suddenly fell to the ground during her eulogy. It seems that Sarah had suffered an attack of arrhythmia or a cardiac arrest. She had no history of any heart trouble and we were all devastated by her sudden death."

Gladys continued: “It was a terrible blow to our family. It was a blow to her partner, who had just lost his own father. It was a blow to the three young children left behind and it was a blow to Dave, I and Sarah’s younger sister, Trisha, who was at the ceremony with us.”

A month later Wraysbury Parish Council paid a touching tribute to Sarah by lighting a beacon at an event which celebrated her life.

“It was a remarkable thing for a local council to do for one of its lost residents," Gladys said. "I spoke at the event and told the 350 people gathered there to be strong for Sarah and to do what they believe in as she did."

Sarah Healey was a registered nurse who had worked in the Accident and Emergency Department of Wrexham Maelor Hospital. She was a highly qualified prescriber who had moved on to specialise in oncology and the treatment of cancer patients. She was also developing her own aesthetics business and had a significant clientele at her clinic in Windsor.

The Healeys said siblings are often overlooked when a member of a family dies as people usually ask about the well-being of the person’s parents or children and not about their sisters or brothers.

Trisha Healey explained how she is dealing with the tragic loss of her older sister: “Losing my older and only sister has been the hardest thing I have ever experienced.

"I spoke to her daily and we had an extremely close bond that only sisters will experience. Life will never be the same but I find planning things with friends, talking and crying when you need to with no shame has helped. I also started cold water dipping in May last year. I can honestly say it’s built up my resilience levels massively so I have continued with this.”

Sarah’s father, Dave, is County Councillor for Caergwrle ward and Flintshire’s Cabinet member for Climate Change. He said: “I’ve thrown myself into my council commitments but I have also read a great deal on the sudden loss of a loved one and the grieving process.

"I’ve found the book ‘I wasn’t ready to say goodbye’  by Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair to be a great help. It’s written by two people who suffered the sudden loss of loved ones and it comes at the issue from every angle – from the perspective of partners, parents, children and siblings. Everyone has their own journey through grief.

"One of the most valuable things I have learned is that, rather than falling into absolute despair, you can try to do something worthwhile in memory of the loved one. I think it is important advice.”

The family have expressed thanks to the many people both within Flintshire and in the south of England who have expressed their condolences and also given practical help.

Gladys added: “There are times when you recognise what a great, supportive community we are. Our friends in Hope and Caergwrle and members of Flintshire County Council, regardless of political group, have been a great support to us.”