Hundreds of tributes have been paid to Jeanette Bateman, who fostered dozens of children and played a huge part in the Melton community.
Jeanette died suddenly at her Sapcote Drive home at the age of 58.
Although she suffered from epilepsy, her death came as a huge shock to her son Len and daughter Jen and her many friends across the town.
Jen (29) said: “Mum wasn’t poorly. She went out on Saturday night as usual and then passed away the following day. We’ve had more than 300 messages on Facebook from people giving their condolences.””
Jeanette worked as a childminder and also devoted her life to fostering children.
Many were underpriveleged youngsters who stayed with her for the weekend in Melton before being returned to their families.
Len (34) recalled: “Social services used to drop the kids off, they would have a bath and something to eat and mum would look after them until it was time for them to go home.
“The house was always full of children when we were growing up. She said she fostered about 45 over the years.”
Jeanette also brought up the two children of her friends, Alan and Pauline Hay, after they were tragically killed in a car crash.
She had been babysitting for them on the night of the accident, 16 years ago, and decided to take on Elizabeth, who was three at the time, and William, who was 15.
Jen said: “That was what mum was like. We are very close to Will and Liz and we class them as our brother and sister.”
Jeanette was born in Leicester before moving to Leesthorpe and then Melton in the early 1990s.
She divorced husband Len and never remarried, despite having other relationships.
Jeanette became close friends with staff at The Spice Club Indian restaurant in Melton, where she would regularly drop in for a chat and to help fold napkins.
She loved spending time with her grandchildren, Jordon (4) and 10-week-old Jamie.
Jen said: “Mum was the life and soul of the party wherever she was.
“She loved being out in her car with the music blaring.
“Everyone knew when she arrived anywhere because Celine Dion or Queen would be playing loudly in the car.”
For the last 17 years Jeanette worked for Kettleby Foods, part of the Samworth Brothers group at Melton.
She specialised in food safety and first aid training and got on well with everyone in the company thanks to her bubbly spirit and ability to make people laugh.
Personnel manager Jo Carver said: “Everyone at Kettleby is shocked and saddened by the untimely passing of Jeanette and our thoughts are with all her family and friends.
“Her team, Rekha, Stephanie and Matt, will miss her for all the hugs they will never get again and for her constant nagging when they were doing too much and not looking after themselves properly.
“Jeanette will be remembered as the ‘mum’ of the team.
“We will miss her greatly.”
On the day of her funeral, on Monday October 24, her coffin will be pulled in a carriage through Melton by four horses, in accordance with her last wishes.
The service, which is at 10.30am, will take place at St Mary’s Church, Melton.
Anyone who would like to attend is invited, with the family request to wear bright clothes.
There will be family flowers only and donations in lieu of flowers can be made to LOROS Hospice or the Epilepsy Society.
The funeral is being arranged through Richard Barnes Funeral Directors in Melton.