TRIBUTES have been paid to a fun-loving mother of two, who died a day after arriving back from a dream holiday to Brazil.
Lesley Booth said her trip to the South American country was a “dream come true”, travelling to the island paradise of Fernando de Noronha and watching the World Cup final from the sands of Brazil’s famous Copacabana Beach.
However, less than 24 hours after arriving back in Sunderland, the 42-year-old was found collapsed by younger daughter Lauren Kirtley, 19, at the home they shared in South Hylton.
Paramedics rushed Lesley to Sunderland Royal Hospital, where medics feared she had fluid around her heart.
She was due to be transferred to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital for emergency surgery, but passed away at the Royal in the early hours of Thursday, on her sister Sharon’s birthday.
Lesley fought a decade-long battle with Crohn’s Disease after being diagnosed aged 32, and underwent two life-saving operations in the past year.
In a further blow, she was diagnosed with lymphoma in June and was due to have a PET scan the day after she passed away.
Mystery still surrounds the death of the popular businesswoman, who ran Village News in South Hylton.
In a moving final post on Facebook, she told family and friends: “Hope I wake up tomorrow and today has just been a dream and I’m still in Rio.
“I have had the most amazing time and met the most amazing people.
“I absolutely loved every second. Thank you so much to the amazing Dazzie Potts for making my dreams come true.”
Lauren, who lived with her mum in South Hylton, said: “She was hilarious. She was really, really funny. She did not realise how funny she was.”
Lesley’s mum Hilda, of Hadleigh Road, added: “She was having the time of her life on holiday.
“She always had a smile on her face, no matter what.
“Her smile and her laugh were infectious. She just kept going. Nothing could get her down.”
In a lasting tribute to their mum, Lauren and older sister Danielle Kirtley, 23, niece Briony Booth, 18, brother Mick, 47, who lives in Northern Ireland, and Sharon, 43, from Sunderland, have all had a small elephant inked onto their inner wrists at a tattoo studio in Hylton Road.
“A man she met in Brazil gave her a elephant ornament,” said Lauren, “because she had told him about her illnesses and he said if she put it in her house and pointed the trunk towards the door, it would bring her luck. When she was in hospital, she was asking about it but she passed away before we could bring it in.”
Lesley’s funeral will take place at Sunderland Crematorium on Friday, where people are asked to wear black.
Donations are being collected for charity Crohn’s and Colitis UK.