What should have been a delightful family Christmas turned into a mum’s worst nightmare when Sue Holland discovered her daughter Claire had died.
The 26-year-old suffered a major epileptic fit at her Brockworth flat in the early hours of Christmas Day.
Yesterday, Sue, also from Brockworth, said: “I’m devastated. I’ve not just lost my daughter, I’ve lost my best friend.
“She was such a lovely, bubbly girl. Claire just had fun and lived life to the full.”
Now Sue, 49, has the painful task of opening Christmas presents to and from Claire, a former Woolworths shop worker, that have since laid unopened.
Claire hit a bout of depression when she lost her Woolies job but took up art classes and a drama course at Gloucestershire College.
Former pals from Woolworths and Morrisons, where she later worked, will pay their respects at her pink-themed funeral on Friday.
Her dad Mike said: “I can’t believe she is gone. For it to happen on Christmas Day is unthinkable.”
She leaves behind her sister Laura, 15, and brother Andrew, 23. Laura said: “She was amazing. She was like a second mum to me. I’m really going to miss her.”
Claire had been diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of seven and had battled against fits throughout her life.
Mum Sue now has Claire’s vast collection of Charlie bears and her artwork to remember her by.
“The teddy bears are going nowhere. I’m keeping them all. I couldn’t face parting with them,” said Sue.
Sue said she was amazed by the support she has received from the team at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, paramedics, the police and Claire’s friends.
Her friends have paid their own respects to Claire, by lighting candles and posting hundreds of tributes to Facebook.
Friend Lorna Rose Smith said: “I had a little smile to myself thinking about all the good times we had together. I love you always and I will never forget you.”
Claire’s former primary school teacher Ruth King said: “I’m in complete shock. What a star in so many ways. A bubbly, bright character with a cheeky grin. So many stories.
“Sue, you were blessed with an amazing daughter who will live on in many people’s hearts.”