The woman who died in a Melton house fire on Sunday night helped found The Mount Group RDA riding school for the disabled at Somerby and was suffering from terminal cancer, it has emerged.
Tributes have been paid to Pat Bishop (72), who was killed when a blaze broke out at her home in Lambert Close shortly after 8pm.
Her husband Rod (70) and 32-year-old son John were taken by ambulance to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, suffering from smoke inhalation.
Mrs Bishop was chairman of The Mount Group RDA for 25 years before retiring last year after being diagosed with her terminal illness.
Diana Poyser, the group’s organiser, said: “This has come as such an absolute shock for all of us.
“We had prepared ourselves that we wouldn’t have Pat for very much longer.
“Pat was always upbeat despite being gvien the devastating news about her illness.
“She said she wanted to go for one last ride out down a country lane but it wasn’t to be.
“And we have lost the chance to say goodbye to her.”
Diana added: “When I was told what had happened, I just couldn’t believe it. It’s devastating. Everyone at the riding school has just been walking around in shock.”
Mrs Bishop worked tirelessly to raise money for The Mount Group RDA and her work with the organisation has given therapeutic help to thousands of children and young adults with disabilities and learning difficulties.
Mrs Poyser said: “Pat was just an amazing woman for helping to get so many people to donate to the charity because we rely on the fundraising.
“She was instrumental in setting the group up and we have just celebrated our 30th year.
“Pat started it with a handful of borrowed ponies and she has helped countless children and people through the years.
“Her enthusiasm was infectious and she lived and breathed The Mount Group - it was her lifeblood.”
Mrs Bishop had made a checklist of things she had always wanted to do and was working through them in the short time she had left.
Mrs Poyser added: “Pat was going through her bucket list of things to do. Some RDA members had taken her to London to see the Christmas lights and to ride on the London Eye.
“Last month she went to the ballet to see Swan Lake, something she had always wanted to do but never done.
“It’s all so very sad and we will miss her terribly.”
The cause of the fire is still being investigated.
A spokesperson for Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service said: “We were called to a property on Lambert Close, Melton Mowbray, at 8.10 following reports that a property was well alight.
“Sadly one of the occupants, a 72 year old woman, died and two men, aged 70 and 32, were taken to hospital in Nottingham where they received treatment for smoke inhalation.
“The cause of the fire is being investigated by the fire service and Leicestershire Police and more information will be released once the investigation is complete.
“This is a terrible tragedy and the thoughts of the fire and rescue service are with the family, friends and acquaintances of the deceased.
“Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service staff will be working in Melton during the next few days, to provide reassurance and advice to residents about how they can avoid a similar scenario – we will release dates and times as soon as they have been confirmed.”