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Tributes paid to Co Down mother following `dignified' cancer battle

Aundrea Bannatyne pictured with her two sons, Jack (left) and James (right)
Marie Louise McConville

A CO Down mother-of-two who wrote openly on social media about her battle with pancreatic cancer has died.

Aundrea Bannatyne, from Dundonald, had more than 13,000 people following her Facebook page Aundrea's Army, which was set up following her diagnosis in July 2016.

The news came after the 42-year-old, who worked in the travel industry, had nursed her young son through his own cancer battle.

James, who was two at the time, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumour in 2009 and underwent a number of brain operations, as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy before he went into remission.

Seven years later, Aundrea was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and family, friends and members of the public - who called themselves Aundrea's Army - mobilised to raise almost £80,000 to send the young woman for treatment in Germany.

In recent weeks, she moved into the Marie Curie Hospice where she passed away early today with family by her side.

Martin Maclaren, one of Aundrea's best friends, said the 42-year-old had fought her battle "with dignity".

"She was such an inspiration," he said.

"She was do determined that she was going to beat it. When I asked her one day if she was afraid of dying, she said she was scared about leaving her boys. The boys were her life. She lived and breathed and worked for them. They are such a close knit family."

Mr Maclaren described Aundrea, who had planned her own funeral, as someone who had "a sparkle in her eye".

"If you met Aundrea once you would never forget her," he said.

"Her laugh was infectious. She would walk into a room and light the room up. She was always immaculate from her nails to her make-up to her hair. She was a stunning looking girl.

"The travel industry in Northern Ireland will never be the same. She was just a character and the loss, it's very difficult just now."

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