A community champion who spent the last decade helping people in Thatcham grieve has died after a sudden suspected stroke.

Covid Response Volunteer of the Year (2020), Claire Bird, suffered a bleed on the brain in the early hours of Friday morning,

She was rushed from her home in Windermere Way to hospital, but passed away the following day aged 43, leaving behind a husband and three children.

“[I felt] broken. It’s the only way I can describe it. I was there within half an hour of her having the first episode, I followed the ambulance to Oxford and I was there all night,” said her sister, Lucy Goodliffe, 37.

“I was lucky enough to see her and spend time with her.”

Reading Chronicle: Left: Claire BirdLeft: Claire Bird (Image: Lucy Goodliffe)

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Claire won two titles at the West Berkshire Community Champion Awards for a group she set up which created 5,000 masks and scrubs for NHS workers during the first year of the pandemic.

As the owner of Birdhouse Creations, Claire spent years handmaking blankets and teddy bears from the clothes of customer’s loved ones to remember them by.

Now her family, who saw each other every day, are coming to terms with how to remember Claire.

“She just was that completely glass-half-full ray of sunshine; every photo you find of her is her smiling. She was just a lovely person,” Lucy said.

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She continued: “She was always there. It didn’t matter what the situation was or how bad she felt, she was there with a smile on her face and a cup of tea for anyone with positive words.”

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Lucy explained how she had been their mum’s best friend since they lost their brother, Tim, aged 27, 11 years ago.

To help Claire’s husband, Stuart, and their three children grieve, Lucy has set up a fundraiser which has attracted more than £5,500 in donations in two days.

“I’ve had people approach me and say she did so much for the community that people want to give back.”