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Tributes paid to Diss mum-of-two Jacqui Walker

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Tributes have been paid to Jacqui Walker, a mother-of-two who died after contracting coronavirus.

The 46-year-old, of Cuthberts Maltings in Diss, died at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on Saturday, August 14 – a fortnight after being placed into an induced coma.

Her husband, Kenny, remembered his wife’s “amazing smile, open arms and sense of humour”, as he described the outpouring of support over the past week.

A fundraising page has been set up in memory of Jacqui. (50521886)
A fundraising page has been set up in memory of Jacqui. (50521886)

“The offers of help have been incredible,” he said. “But that’s Diss, isn’t it?”

“People loved Jacqui. She could talk to anyone, and always had time for people.

“Throughout our married life, she was always trying to help people in need. When friends had lost their jobs, she insisted we give them somewhere to stay. Throughout Covid, she had been constantly helping people with phone calls and messages of support.

“She had this welcoming smile, that would bring the best out of people. They’ll remember that, her kind heart, her open arms and her sense of humour, and the fact that she was an awesome mother.”

Aged 22, Mrs Walker was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and then rheumatoid arthritis in her early 30s.

As a result of her health conditions, she would frequently visit Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

“Jacqui suffered for 24 years with Crohn’s,” said Mr Walker. “But she never let it define her – she just approached it head-on. It meant she was able to deal with it and move on.

“She had her teams at Norfolk and Norwich, who were brilliant. She had received care in Denmark, Yorkshire and Wales, but the care she had here was just tremendous.”

Despite being double vaccinated, Mrs Walker tested positive for coronavirus on July 21, and three days later was in hospital.

On July 30, she was put into an induced coma and placed on a ventilator, until her death two weeks later.

Mr Walker, who now runs an oven cleaning business, added: “I think the fact that people are being double vaccinated means they feel safer, but it doesn’t stop you catching coronavirus and spreading it.

“When it hits someone who has underlying health conditions, it’s dangerous.”

Born in Thirsk, north Yorkshire, in 1974 to Jimmy and Janet Earnshaw, she was the middle sister to siblings Julie and Joanne.

She attended Thirsk School and university before going on to take a job at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) – an arm of the Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, aged just 18.

Years later, she met her future husband and Diss-native Mr Walker, a manager for an animal feed company based in Thirsk.

In 1999, the pair moved to Denmark, getting married the next year, having two children and remaining in the country for the next seven years.

After returning to England, Mrs Walker and her young family moved back to Thirsk, then north Wales, before finally settling in Norfolk in 2013.

They lived in Common Road, Shelfanger, until 2018, when they moved to Diss.

After leaving the VLA, Mrs Walker worked as an editor for the Pig Journal, a scientific publication that specialised in trade body research within the pig industry.

She retired in 2013, before going on to volunteer at Oxfam on Market Hill, Diss, for more than a year.

It was through her volunteering work, and having lived near a Nato base during her time in Denmark, that tributes have come in from all across Diss and as far away as Australia over the past week.

Mrs Walker leaves behind her husband, Kenny, and daughters, Megan, 19, and Hannah, 17, as well as beloved dogs Agnes, Edith and Erik.

A JustGiving page has more than £4,000 for her family, whilst Victoria Fishbar, in Victoria Road, even went as far as donating all of last Tuesday’s cash payments – raising a further £555.

To donate to the Walker family’s fundraiser, click here.

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