A devastated husband today spoke of the heartbreaking moment he waved his wife goodbye before she died from killer bug malaria.
Mum-of-two Jayne Rowley died after both her and husband Martin contracted the disease while holidaying at their luxury villa in Gambia.
The 47-year-old from Marton had regularly travelled to the west African country for more than two decades, donating football kits and goalposts to local children on their visits.
But following their return from their latest 10-day break, the couple, pictured here during their last visit to their holiday home in Gambia and at their daughter’s wedding in Lytham just two months ago, were rushed into Blackpool Victoria Hospital for treatment.
Shortly after they were forced to say their goodbyes so they could be treated on different wards, Mrs Rowley suffered a seizure after the bug attacked “every organ in her body.”
Mr Rowley, 45, said: “I never thought anything of waving her goodbye at the time because I was still in a bit of a blur.
“We had been bed-ridden and we decided we had better go to hospital to get ourselves checked.
“We thought it must have been something more sinister than flu because I almost couldn’t walk, it was so bad.
“On the way she had a seizure which was horrendous for her.
“I wasn’t able to be by her side because I was being treated.”
Mr Rowley was told of his wife’s deteriorating condition in the early hours of Tuesday, and 35 different friends and family members visited her bedside before she lost her fight for life at 4.30pm on Wednesday.
The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine said only two people died of the disease in the UK last year.
Paying tribute to his wife of 25 years, Mr Rowley said: “She was just a lovely girl and a good mother to our children. I’m still in a state of shock – I’ll never see her again.
“I don’t think the children will cope with it, they’re struggling.”
The couple had stayed at their three-bedroom holiday home in the Brufut area of Gambia, which they had owned for two years, before returning a fortnight ago.
However, before their visit they had not followed health warnings to regularly take anti-malaria medication before, during and after the trip. Mr Rowley said: “We were never religious with them so we might just have taken a couple of them.
“We would be slack with them and just buy them locally in Gambia.
“When I saw her on Tuesday she was completely out of it and didn’t regain consciousness. It attacked every organ in her body.”
The couple, who have owned and run Carpets of Lytham for many years, began feeling unwell after their return, which he had put down to returning to a cold climate.
After being bed ridden for several days they decided to seek medical help. Mr Rowley’s condition has been treated and yesterday he was discharged from hospital with a course of anti-malaria medication.
The couple met when Mr Rowley worked as a barman at the Ship and Royal pub in Lytham. They later married and had two children - Victoria, 22 and 17-year-old James - who are both employed at their parents’ business.
Victoria married at St John the Divine Church, in Lytham, just two months ago, with the reception held at the nearby Clifton Arms Hotel.
Mrs Rowley’s funeral and wake will be held at the same venues respectively, with the service starting at 2.30pm on Thursday.
Mr Rowley said: “The one thing we said last night was Jayne was at least alive to see Victoria get married, because it was the proudest day of her life.”
Donations in her memory to be made to No More Malaria.