Plea for awareness after husband’s death
9:26am Thursday 14th March 2013 in Local
A HEARTBROKEN widow and mother-of-five is determined to raise awareness of the devastating condition that killed her husband.
Claire Axon lost her husband of 14 years, Neil, when he died suddenly from a genetic condition he did not know he had.
The 38-year-old ‘s sons — Jordan, aged 17, Niam, aged 14, Remi, aged nine, Euan, aged six and Caelan, aged four — will now have to be tested for familial hypercholesterolaemia, which causes high blood cholesterol, and led to Mr Axon developing a coronary thrombosis.
Mrs Axon has now set up a Little Lever group to support Heart UK and the British Heart Foundation to raise awareness of the devastating condition.
She said: “I am determined for something positive to come out of this, and raise awareness of heart conditions.
“Neil was fine, he was always doing something, playing with the children and was not overweight.
“The frustrating thing if he had a cholesterol test he could have been treated. He also smoked, which brought on the condition sooner. He said he would give up when he was 40, which would have been in January.
“I need to be able to make a difference in Neil’s memory. If one person goes for a test or gives up smoking, or looks at their family’s medical history then something positive will have come out of it.”
The family were out celebrating the couple’s wedding anniversary when Mr Axon first began to feel ill.
Mrs Axon, from Little Lever, said: “We had gone to local Conservative Club. The boys played pool with Neil. We all had a really good time, laughing and joking.
“We put the children to bed and Neil and I had a cup of tea.”
But then Mr Axon started being violently sick.
He fell asleep for a short time and Mrs Axon said she kept checking on him before he woke up in distress.
An ambulance was called but before paramedics arrived Mr Axon stopped breathing.
His wife desperately tried to save him using CPR and paramedics continued to work on him until they reached the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Mrs Axon then had the awful task — on Christmas morning — of telling their children that their father had died.
The couple had been best friends as they lived on the same street in Little Lever but did not date until late 1990s when Mr Axon told her on Christmas Day in 1996 “he loved her”.
The couple got engaged on Valentine’s Day before marrying on Christmas Eve in 1998.
Mr Axon worked as a gas fitter, and Mrs Axon become a full-time mum to their sons.
She said: “He was an amazing dad and husband.
“He was so proud of the boys, and wanted everyone else to be as proud as he was. He would always try to come home for tea so he could see his sons before bed, on the times he couldn’t he would say ‘it doesn’t seem right that I haven’t seen them’.
“Neil only wanted the best for his family. He would always laugh at his own jokes and start crying with laughter, which would then make everyone else laugh.”
More than 300 people attended his funeral, with many having to stand outside St Matthew’s Church.
Mrs Axon added: “I never imagined I would be a widow at the age of 37.
“I never thought my children would be without a parent. I do ask why did he have to die, and why on Christmas Day. How can I bring the sparkle back to Christmas, it can never be special again.
“The boys have been inspirational, they are all helping each other. It is a reflection on Neil.”
Describing Mr Axon as her “best friend”, Mrs Axon added: “People have said to me that many people do not experience what Neil and I had in a lifetime.”
The family have received support from friends, who despite Mrs Axon’s reluctance, are taking part in a sponsored swim tomorrow to send the family on holiday, despite Mrs Axon asking them to donate it to charity.
Mrs Axon said: “I have been so humbled, I then said give half of the money to charity, but they wouldn’t and so I accepted but said in the future all the money will go to charity.”