Grieving mum from Marton wants answers as she lays her girl to rest

Two days earlier Fiona Walmsley had enjoyed a family Christmas.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 14th April 2015, 10:00 am
Caragh Melling, in her younger years, as gala queen
Caragh Melling, in her younger years, as gala queen

But then her phone rang and her world fell apart.

“I was blindsided by a phone call I pray no one else will ever have to experience,” said Fiona, from Marton.

“It was my eldest son David, sobbing down the phone ‘mum, Caragh’s died.’”

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Caragh Melling

Her daughter Caragh Melling, 37, – who had travelled home for Christmas Day – had collapsed after complaining of feeling dizzy.

Despite the brave efforts of paramedics, the former Staining gala queen could not be revived.

Almost four months on, her shattered family are no closer to knowing how she died.

There are clues, but pathologists’ reports have proved inconclusive.

Caragh, a probation officer, was diagnosed with adult onset asthma two years previously and was being investigated for sleep apnoea – where patients can temporarily stop breathing while asleep – but the evidence is lacking.

The family is planning to attend a screening session at Manchester Infirmary to rule out any genetic problems.

Fiona – who works teaching dyslexic college and school students – said: “With a death like this, it is the utter trauma and devastation which affects all the family.

“Three pathologists have given their expert opinion on the cause, weighing up everything, but the case is complex and there is little physical evidence.

“The official cause of death is exacerbation of asthma, perhaps caused by a virus, but it is based on assumption.”

Caragh and her partner Alan had been visiting Fiona at Christmas and gone home later to Coventry that day.

Both were feeling slightly unwell through colds.

Two days later, just before 6pm, Caragh had been sorting through some clothes when she said she felt dizzy, before collapsing.

Her partner called an ambulance – which arrived 11 minutes later.

Paramedics tried to resuscitate her, but were unsuccessful.

Fiona said: “I feel very strongly training in CPR is vital for all. In these situations, the first two or three minutes are crucial.

“It doesn’t guarantee she would have been revived, but she would have had more chance.”

An inquest will not be held into Caragh’s death, and Fiona is still looking at other avenues of investigation.

She said: “I am doing all I can to find the missing piece of the jigsaw to find the answer to the question ‘why?’”

Caragh was born and brought up in Staining and lived there until she was 22. She attended Staining CE Primary and Baines High in Poulton and Blackpool Sixth Form College and was made Queen of Queens during her reign as Staining Gala Queen, by Fylde Club Day Association and was also St Luke’s May Queen.

She was a graduate of The University of Teesside and The University of Birmingham. She volunteered tirelessly for musical charities and the homeless.

She loved to spend time with her family – including dad Noel, brothers David, Nathan and Michael and her nieces and nephew.

Fiona said: “Caragh was funny, loyal, kind and loving. She was an inspiration to me.

“She loved to learn and was very bright, always asking questions.

“She attended church regularly until the age of 22 and Jesus lived in her.

“She suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia and dyspraxia until the age of 20, and this inspired me to train as a specialist.

“Among her passions were travel, driving and allotments – and she loved to make people happy.

“She was never happier than when she was looking for and sourcing unusual and unique presents for people.

“When Caragh came home, the house felt complete, the family felt complete. It will never be complete again.

“But I want to remember Caragh as someone who was always there for others, someone people could lean on in times of trouble.”

Fiona is planning to make donations to several charities, close to Caragh’s heart.

The family plans to adopt a tiger at Blackpool Zoo in Caragh’s memory, as she adored tigers and was keen to save them from extinction.

Money will be donated to Christian charity Mercy Ministries, which helps girls between the ages of 18 and 28 with self-esteem issues, self harming and depression.

And to a charity called Coventry Comforters, which cooks dinners and provides food for the homeless in Coventry.

Caragh cooked dinner for 40 homeless people every Christmas and, as a probation officer, she had a great affinity with young offenders and those scorned by society.

A big memorial concert took place in January in Coventry for Caragh, with acts from the ska music scene, including Ska Face from Blackpool and Roddy Byers taking part.

A funeral service for Caragh will take place tomorrow, at 1pm, at Bispham All Hallows Church, Blackpool, followed by committal at Carleton Crematorium, at 2.15pm.