A much-loved and highly respected Newtownstewart woman who flew to Spain with her husband to celebrate her 70th birthday tragically took suddenly severely ill two days into their break and subsequently passed away in hospital in Malaga.
Mrs Freda Wilson, a native of Stranorlar, Co Donegal, is believed to have suffered a brain haemorrhage on the actual day of her birthday, September 15, and passed away just over two weeks later, on Tuesday, October 2, while still a patient in the hospital.
Family members, sons, Colyn and Trevor, and daughter, Lorraine, travelled out to support their father Bryan, throughout the ordeal and were relieved when the body was repatriated on Sunday night to their home at Bunderg Road.
A selfless charity worker, church worker and a passionate gardener, Mrs Wilson's vibrant upbeat nature radiated and made her a firm favourite no matter what the occasion or who she was with. She was chairperson of the Newtownstewart branch of Cancer Focus between 2006 and 2011 and acted as a committee member for many years too. Her love of dancing and elegant fashion also contributed to her ebullient and engaging personality. She was also a director of the building and civil engineering firm, GF Wilson, based in Newtownstewart, which has been running since 1947.
Family members paid tribute to a wonderful wife and mother who was christened Winifred Kathleen, but was better known to everyone as Freda. Husband Bryan, also a manager with the same company, recalled how the couple had decided to go to Spain for 10 days to celebrate Freda's 70th birthday when she took ill two days after they arrived.
"She was my soulmate for a lifetime and was very interested in the church. She was also an exceptional gardener. Every time you were looking for her you would find her in the garden somewhere."
Mr Wilson said she was "in perfect health" when they arrived in Malaga on Thursday, September 13.
"We went for a stroll on Friday, went to the pool on Saturday and she became unwell when we got back to the hotel."
Her condition never improved and she was unable to communicate.
"She got a bleed in the brain and it just became too complicated," Mr Wilson added. "She was in a specialist unit and they did a good job and fought hard for her. They told me that her heart stopped six times on the Monday and her life was ebbing away. They felt her brain was simply too damaged and she died early the next morning on Tuesday, October 2," he said.
A protracted wait followed to bring Mrs Wilson home, with the family obliged to use three separate airlines by the time she arrived in Belfast on Sunday night.
Mr Wilson said it was a difficult wait for the family, but took comfort his wife had been enjoying her holiday before her illness.