Sorrow as Marathon fundraiser loses her fight for life

LYNN Ashton, who walked the London Marathon pushing her oxygen supply, has died after complications following a lung transplant and a heart attack. The 47-year-old grandmother from Hartford, who battled against lung disease, died on last Wednesday (Octobe

LYNN Ashton, who walked the London Marathon pushing her oxygen supply, has died after complications following a lung transplant and a heart attack.

The 47-year-old grandmother from Hartford, who battled against lung disease, died on last Wednesday (October 8) after a cardiac arrest two days earlier.

Mrs Ashton went into coma from which she never recovered.

She had a lung transplant at Papworth Hospital in May and was overjoyed to be able to breathe without oxygen for the first time in eight years. However, she developed an infection and returned to hospital only leaving for days out for family occasions.


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Mrs Ashton, who grew up in Ramsey, was the mother of twin daughters and a son and a grandmother of five. She made headlines for her determination to raise funds and awareness for lung charities, including taking her five-day London Marathon.

Her partner of three years, Bob Tollis, said: "I never knew such a caring person. We were soul mates. Lynn set herself targets. Her first target after her grandson, Kieran, was born was to see him go to school. Her son's girlfriend is pregnant and she wanted to see the baby but that wasn't to be.

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"When she had the transplant, she was so grateful. She was free of her oxygen supply for the first time in eight years. But she became poorly, she caught a virus which damaged the new lungs and she had to go back on the oxygen."

Mrs Ashton developed a lung condition eight years ago after a candle set light to a plastic tablecloth. She inhaled the fumes and developed bronchiectasis. From then on, despite being unable to breathe without her oxygen supply, she made extraordinary efforts to help others.

Mrs Ashton, who worked as a care assistant before becoming ill, became the chairman of the charity Hunts Breathe for Life, a support group for people with lung disease. She went on several sponsored walks in Huntingdon, Godmanchester and St Ives. The most spectacular walk was the London Marathon in 2006, which took her five days. She raised £15,000 for the British Lung Foundation.

After the walk she said it had brought her more happiness than anything except for the births of her children and grandchildren.

She said: "April 27, 2006 will be a day I will never forget as long as I live.

"Not being able to breath is the most terrifying experience anyone should have to go through. It affects any age from a small baby to a grown adult. I was very frightened that I didn't have a future."

Her daughter Laura this week told The Hunts Post: "We were so proud of her, she was always so brave. She was a brilliant mum and nan, and was always there for us. Whatever happened, she carried on thinking about other people and living her life."

Dame Helena Shovelton, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: "Mrs Ashton was an inspiration to all those who met her.

"She completed the Flora London Marathon despite needing oxygen 24 hours a day. She set off on the Sunday and completed the distance on the Tuesday, walking for four-and-a-half hours each day with constant nursing support.

"Everyone at the British Lung Foundation is saddened to hear that Lynn has lost her courageous battle with lung disease. Our thoughts are with her family."

Audrey Redhead, secretary of Hunts Breathe for Life, added: "Lynn worked tirelessly behind the scenes getting a website set up, addressing voluntary bodies, checking on members' wellbeing and helping the rehabilitation programme at Papworth Hospital.

"We face the future without Lynn but are strengthened by the standard of service to others that she always achieved. Our condolences go to Lynn's family."

Mrs Ashton leaves daughters Laura and Louise, son James and grandchildren, Kieran, Sharlie, Mollie-Rose, Carys and Evie. Her funeral will be at St Mary's Church, Huntingdon with a burial at Primrose Lane.

INFORMATION: Anyone wishing to support or use Hunts Breathe for Life can call 01480 459998.

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