Sherry Campbell: Choking victim was 'a beautiful person, inside and out'
KIND, fun, loving, giving, sweet, thoughtful, beautiful.
The words used to describe Sherry Campbell following the shock of her sudden death from choking were echoed again and again in online tributes.
“A beautiful person, inside and out,” was one phrase that seemed to sum up the 29-year-old.
“One of the most caring people you could ever come across,” said another.
The tributes poured out from her large circle of friends as well as from teachers and pupils at Strangford College, where Sherry was a teaching assistant for special needs children.
She adored the job, working alongside her mother Fionuala as well as many of the staff from her own schooldays there.
Pupils formed a guard of honour at her funeral in Bangor on Wednesday, and teachers sang movingly during the Requiem Mass.
Afterwards there was a celebration of Sherry's life in her favourite restaurant, Pier 36 in Donaghadee.
There were flowers with sparkles and butterflies, a big smiling picture of Sherry, and plenty of food, drink and music over which to share memories.
And when it came to her mummy's favourite song, My Cherie Amour, everyone stopped to sing together from printed sheets in tribute to their lost friend.
An only child, Sherry had lived her whole life with her mother and father on the beachfront at Orlock, close to Groomsport, on the northern tip of the Ards peninsula.
As a young girl she was sweet and kind, and as she grew up she became more outgoing but also retained a quiet, contemplative side.
“She always wanted to make sure that everyone was happy and having a good time,” said her close friend Danielle Elmes.
After leaving Strangford College, Sherry completed a travel and tourism qualification in Bangor and worked briefly in clothes store Next, but when her mother began working as a teaching assistant in her old school, she knew immediately that she wanted to follow her.
Sherry had a natural way with children and related easily to them - when she started out aged 24, some of the pupils were only a few years younger.
Outside work Sherry enjoyed cooking, socialising and following the fortunes of the Ulster and Ireland rugby teams.
She was healthy and happy and had recently enjoyed a holiday in Majorca with her parents.
On the night she died she had cooked some steak and potatoes for the family dinner and was finishing off some of the meat in the kitchen when she began to choke.
Her parents had gone to bed and were unaware of the tragedy - her father Shannon found her in the early hours after getting up and finding the lights still on.
Danielle is now leading a drive to establish a foundation in Sherry’s memory to raise awareness of the dangers of choking, how common it is - the fourth highest cause of accidental deaths - and how to survive when it happens.
It will also fundraise to support special needs provision at Strangford College, the place so close to Sherry's heart.
"I don't think lot of people realise that a young, fit, 29-year-old person can just choke like that. It doesn't even make enough noise to waken anyone,” she said.
"Sherry died at such a young age, it seems so senseless for her to be gone. Having something that will provide for others and keep her name in the front of everyone's minds will be such a comfort in times to come."
Sherry Campbell died a month short of her 30th birthday on September 7. She is survived by her parents Shannon and Fionuala and family circle.
To donate to Sherry's foundation or for further information, see justgiving.com/crowdfunding/danielle-elmes.