'She fought with bravery and fortitude' - a tribute to a Sunderland woman who died after second aneurysm
Tributes have been paid to a former Sunderland woman who travelled the world but always kept Wearside close to her heart.
Christine Hills (nee Newby) – who regularly visited relatives on Wearside despite living thousands of miles away – passed away after a second aneurysm following her diagnosis of acromegaly, a condition which results in the swelling of soft tissue and bones.
Today, Diane Lowe paid tribute to her sister who ‘battled her illness with fortitude and bravery, never complaining and soldiering on with a positive attitude’.
Christine, eldest daughter of the late Christopher and Iverene Newby, died aged 74 in Sydney, Australia. Her paternal family lived in Sunderland where she spent most of her teenage life.
She lived in RAF stations during childhood and, after the death of her mother in Nairobi in 1960, she returned to the UK to join her father and younger sister, Diane.
Christine went to Monkwearmouth Secretarial School, specialised in shorthand typing, and worked at Sunderland Forge for a short while.
In 1965, she married Steve Hills at the Holy Rosary Church.
After living in Sheffield for a while, the couple and their two young children, Corinna and Matthew moved to Kuwait in 1973 where they lived for nearly six years.
Diane recalled one story which showed Christine’s love of life, she said.
"In 1975, after visiting Sunderland to see family, they drove back to Kuwait travelling across the Saudi Arabian Desert. Christine was six months’ pregnant with their third child, Ilona, testament to the determination and joie de vivre she showed throughout her life.”
The family later moved to Doha in Qatar where they lived for 9 years.
Christine, a personal secretary working for Gulf Air, took advantage of the cheap flights she was entitled to and so would often visit family in Sunderland, sometimes flying home for a weekend.”
Christine and Steve later lived in Sydney for 30 years. They settled in the Dee Why area beside the beach and loved walking their dog, Roker.
“Regular visits from family and friends and frequent trips to Sunderland ensured that the extended family remained close,” said Diane.
Christine worked for Best Western Hotels, Gas Tech and Birdekin where she looked after homeless teenagers.
Sadly, Christine was diagnosed with acromegaly 13 years ago and, on a trip to see friends, suffered an aneurysm.
She was airlifted to a Sydney hospital where she was put in to an induced coma for nearly 50 days, said Diane.
"On awakening, she determinedly followed physiotherapy programmes to aid her recovery. She continued to follow a full life with her family around her which now included seven grandchildren."
She visited Sunderland, travelled across Europe and she and her husband, Steve, had plans of visiting the UK again.
Diane added: “Sadly, Christine had a second aneurysm and died in hospital surrounded by family on June 21. Her funeral took place at St Kevin’s Catholic Church, Warringah.”
Her life was celebrated in wonderful style last weekend and Diane explained: “Christine’s family celebrated what would have been her 75th birthday in true ‘Christine’ style: fish and chips and a gathering of all of the Hills family.”