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Tragic death of young Norwich mum

PUBLISHED: 17:00 26 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:33 01 July 2010

David Bale

Tributes were today paid to a young Norwich mother, who died at the age of 37 after spending most of her life fighting epilepsy.

Tributes were today paid to a young Norwich mother, who died at the age of 37 after spending most of her life fighting epilepsy.

Sharon Watling, from Sleaford Green, north city, was first diagnosed with the condition when she was just 12.

Although the cause of her death on June 6 has not yet been determined, her family today said they believed it was connected to epilepsy and have been raising money for a charity that supports sufferers.

Her husband Sean Watling, 42, said that although seizures caused by her illness had blighted her life in many ways, their daughter Abbie, now five, was a testament to their love.

He said Sharon had also embraced being a stepmum to Bethany and Melissa, his two children from a previous relationship.

He said: “Sharon's pregnancy caused great concern among the doctors because it was very dangerous for her to carry a baby.

“Nevertheless, she was determined to continue with her pregnancy and she gave birth to a beautiful healthy girl, Abbie, and Sharon was able to see Abbie growing up. Thanks to her, Sharon's life can continue.”

Mrs Watling also suffered from fibromyalgia, which she contracted after undergoing a major operation to correct the alignment of her spine, which involved having metal bolts inserted.

Fibromyalgia attacks tendons and muscles, causing painful joints and swellings, and Sharon was, at the time of her death, taking 14 tablets a day for her various ailments.

She was first diagnosed with epilepsy while she was a pupil at Blyth Jex Comprehensive School, in Norwich, and it affected her schooling and robbed her of the teaching she needed to take exams.

By the age of 21 her epilepsy was out of control and she was sent to the Chelfont Epilepsy Hospital in London for three months. Returning home, doctors tried different types of medication, although she was never totally free of seizures.

Sean said: “She had several jobs after leaving school, including auxiliary nursing, which she loved. She would have loved to work in anything to do with hospitals but, regrettably, her work was terminated because of her illness. Added to this she was not allowed to drive or ride her scooter.”

Sharon's mother Diane Coe said her daughter had tried to lead a normal life, but her epilepsy had prevented it.

“She was a loving, happy person who had fought adversity beyond what most of us will experience,” she said.

“But epilepsy kicked in now and again and she had seizures. She was still a happy and caring girl, though.

“In her youth she played pool and for many years she played darts in the Prince of Denmark pub's ladies' team. And she used her artistic skills through cross-stitch.”

Every six months she saw a neurologist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and on her last appoint-ment in April, her mother said he was really pleased with her.

Sharon had met Sean at a nightclub in Tombland, Norwich, and they married on December 6, 2003.

In January 2004 they went on honeymoon flying to New York and then taking a cruise in the Caribbean.

But illness still dogged her, and Sean became her official carer.

Much of the time she was confined to bed and to break the monotony she spent hours doing her cross- stitch work. She even made cards, which the newsagent in Catton Grove, sold in his shop.

The funeral was held at St Faith's Crematorium on Tuesday. Donations with cheques were given to the National Society for Epilepsy. The family asked mourners to wear bright summer clothing, and a celebration of her life was held afterwards at the Prince of Denmark pub in Sprowston Road.

She was survived by her father Paul Coe, sister Victoria, Victoria's husband Adam and their children Daisy and Tilly.

Would you like to pay tribute to a friend or loved one? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale@archant.co.uk

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