Melton couple Jim and Margaret Hill’s Caribbean cruising holiday turned to tragedy when she passed away just three months before what would have been their golden wedding anniversary.
The Hills began their cruise from the port of San Juan, in Puerto Rico, on March 9, but six days later, while their ship was between the islands of Barbados and Dominica, Margaret suffered a severe stroke.
She was airlifted for emergency treatment to a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, in Florida, but sadly died shortly after arriving there. She was 71.
A distraught Jim (70) told the Melton Times: “No-one can prepare you for something like this happening while you are away on a cruise.
“She was a little slower at the start of the cruise and didn’t seem quite herself but it was all so sudden when she fell ill.
“You try to do the right thing but your mind is in a complete whirl with all the toing and froing - you feel so helpless.
“What has come through since it happened is the strength of support my family and friends have given me.”
Margaret was born at Weldon, near Corby, and she married Jim in her home town in 1969. He was serving with the Royal Navy at the time and wore his uniform at the service.
They suffered the distress of losing a son, Graham, when he was just 15 days old, and daughter, Louise, passed away aged 32 after living most of her life with serious medical issues.
They have another son, Andrew (44), who is married to Alicia, and four grandchildren - Daniel (15), Matthew (11), Oliver (9) and six-year-old Lydia.
Alicia started baby loss support group, Stephen’s Footprints, after her son, Stephen, died tragically while she was in labour.
She said: “Losing Margaret has been a big shock for the family. I had a great relationship with her. She was a very caring person. She was special.”
Margaret worked - as company secretary and accounts officer - with Jim in the family security engineering company, Hill Trident, based in Melton.
She spent a day a week working at Dove Cottage Hospice, at Stathern, where colleagues and guests there were said to be ‘devastated’ by her death.
A service will be held for Margaret at Loughborough Crematorium on Friday April 5, at 3.30pm, followed by a wake at the Melton branch of the Royal British Legion.
The family has requested that donations are made to either Dove Cottage or to Lifeline Ministeries, in Dominica, which gave great support to Jim while he waited for Margaret to be flown to the United States for treatment, and which is recovering from a highly destructive hurricane which happened in 2017.