A MUCH-LOVED mum-of-two who worked as a manager for years at the Amberwood pub in Walkford has died suddenly of cardiac arrest at the age of 35.
Nicola Ralph, known as Nicky or Nix, was described by her mother Gill McEwen as “a loving daughter”. She said: “She was bubbly, bright and caring – someone who always had time for everybody.
“Customers loved her. I have had so many letters paying tribute to her from them.”
On Tuesday 30th June, a few days before she died, Nicky had phoned her mother, the landlady of the Amberwood, to tell her she would be in to work in about 30 minutes.
She had kept working there voluntarily with her family throughout lockdown to provide meals and essential supplies to local vulnerable people.
But just a few minutes after speaking with her mother, she called her husband Rob asking him to come home to their flat in Highcliffe as she did not feel well.
When he got there she collapsed. Paramedics were called who arrived quickly and Nicky was taken to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.
Gill and Rob said in a statement: “The paramedics and then the staff at the hospital did everything they could to try and save her but unfortunately she died in the early hours of Saturday.
“Her wishes to be an organ donor were followed and she would have been pleased to know that her death has helped someone else to live.”
Gill told the A&T her daughter seemed “fit and well” prior to her death, adding: “Her death has come as a terrible shock to everyone.”
She has been helping Rob look after the couple’s sons Liam (9) and Nathan (7).
Nicola was born in New Milton and had three elder brothers: Simon, Kevin and Stuart. She was described by her mum as the “baby of the family”.
Gill said: “Nicky worked at the family-run pub with me and John, her stepdad, since she was about 20.
“She really loved everyone. If there was a member of staff with a problem, Nicky would be there for them.
“She was the same with customers. She had a quirky sense of humour and would make people laugh. She was very much a people person.
“But she could also be tough. If there was ever any trouble, Nix would be the first one there sorting it all out.
“She worked extremely hard and was a loving mother. We are all going to miss her so much.”
Nicky’s funeral will be held on Thursday in Bournemouth but due to the pandemic restrictions, mourners are limited to 20.
The family have asked that donations in her memory go to Heart Research UK and the Royal Bournemouth Hospital intensive care unit.
They can be made via Colin Hayley & Tapper Funeral Service, 257 Lymington Road, Highcliffe, Dorset, BH23 5FD.