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Family devastated and community in shock after sudden death of fundraiser Rachel Downey (27)

By Laura Abernethy

Published 02/03/2016

Rachel Downey died in hospital on Sunday
Rachel Downey died in hospital on Sunday

Tributes have been paid to a charity fundraiser from Londonderry who died suddenly at the weekend.

Rachel Downey (27), from Cambourne Park in the Waterside, , passed away in Altnagelvin Hospital on Sunday.

Her mother Grace, dad Reggie, brother David, sister Lynn and fiancé Christopher have been devastated by the young woman's unexpected passing.

They said yesterday that she was a "beloved daughter, loving sister, wonderful aunt and dear fiancee" and added that her death would be "deeply regretted by her loving family circle".

Rachel had been working as a fundraiser and volunteer co-ordinator with various charities, including the Royal National Institute of the Blind Northern Ireland and Guide Dogs NI.

She also helped local animal rescue charity the Rainbow Rehoming Centre, volunteering at the centre itself before moving onto working at fundraising events.

A spokesperson for the charity said: "We are extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Rainbow volunteer Rachel Downey.

"Rainbow was one of many charities Rachel supported.

"She first came into our lives as a volunteer at the centre, and in recent years was always the first person to offer help at fundraising events.

"Rachel had the most caring spirit. She was a joy to be around and her passion for life has left us with lasting memories.

"The Rainbow family would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Rachel's family and friends.

"The world has lost a beautiful young lady RIP Rachel x."

Hundreds of tributes and memories have been posted on Rachel's Facebook page and friends have put together a slideshow of pictures to remember the former Lisneal College student.

The slideshow said: "Forever missed by all of us privileged enough to have your love and friendship. Sweet dreams Rachel."

One friend added: "I am in total shock to just find out that an angel with a massive heart and personality of gold has been taken from us. You will be sadly missed.

"God rest your soul, may you rest in peace and happy wherever you may be."

Another added: "Trying to think of words to write but there is nothing I can say that would describe how amazing you are.

"Heaven has gained a beautiful angel."

Another post read: "Life is so cruel at times. You were taken way too soon from us.

"You were the nicest person ever and were always so happy and full of joy. You will be sadly missed.

"Today has really taken us all by surprise. We'll all miss you and the way you brighten up a room, RIP xxx."

A funeral service for Rachel will take place at Carlisle Road Presbyterian Church at 2pm tomorrow.

The service will be followed by a burial at the nearby Ballyoan Cemetery.

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