Tributes paid to caring ‘angel’

Lena Walton with her brother Jimmy.
Lena Walton with her brother Jimmy.
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A GOOD Samaritan reached out to others even in the final days of her life.

Lena Rose Walton has died aged 73 after a life tirelessly devoted to helping others.

Despite suffering Parkinson’s Disease, osteoporosis, arthritis and fibromyalgia, the caring mum always had time to help those around her.

Her daughter Clare, today told how her mum’s view of life touched everyone she met.

Clare, 41, from St Peter’s, said: “She was quite an extraordinary lady.”

Lena, born in Murton Street in 1938, had a troubled upbringing. Her father was away from home fighting in the Second World War and her mother suffered from mental illness, leaving a young Lena to care for one of her two younger brothers.

Clare puts her mother’s positive attitude and passion for life down to her tough childhood.

She said: “From being little she had to be very brave. From a bad start she became this incredible person.”

The grandmother-of-four married Alan, in 1959 and they had children Clare, Ann, 50, Mark, 48, Christopher, 43 and Paul, who died at just one day old.

After Alan’s death 23 years ago, Lena found a companion in Mark Lovell, who she shared her life with until he died nearly two years ago.

Clare said: “She was lucky enough to have the love of two wonderful men in her life.”

Lena missed out on education as a child because she cared for her brother. Her lack of schooling as a youngster led her to develop a hunger for learning later in life. It was this hunger which saw her become a published poet and win an award for her computing skills.

Lena, who was also a talented pianist and cook, was a devout Catholic.

“She had a lot of sorrow in her life but she always managed to turn it around. Most of us would have given up years ago, but she always saw the positive things,” Clare said.

Despite being diagnosed with Parkinson’s 30 years ago, Lena continued to help others.

She became involved in raising money, and awareness, of the debilitating condition, working hard to care for other sufferers in the Wearside community.

Her passion also extended to supporting people in other countries.

Clare said: “I remember going round to her flat one day and I couldn’t open the front door, there were literally hundreds of these shoeboxes she was making up for the Christmas Shoebox Appeal for Link Romania. She always wanted to help others. She would massage patients’s feet on visits to St Benedict’s and write them poems.

“Even the night before she died she was crocheting a blanket for an old lady.”

Son Christopher 43, who lives in London, added: “In the face of adversity she continued to live life to the absolute fullest. She was a real angel and a light has gone out in the world.”

Lena’s funeral is next Tuesday at the Sacred Heart and St John Bosco Roman Catholic Church in Hylton Castle at 10am, followed by burial at Mere Knolls cemetery.

Lena requested no flowers and donations instead to be made to the Parkinson’s Disease Society.

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