'My soulmate Matthew Thompson (39) died while jogging - now I want to raise cash for defibrillator to save another family from this devastation'
The partner of a man who collapsed and died while jogging on Saturday has launched an appeal to buy a defibrillator to try to prevent another family going through the same devastation.
Matthew Thompson (39), originally from Belfast, went for a run on Saturday afternoon along the Lagan Towpath.
Although he was used to running around 5k twice a week, he didn't know that he had an underlying heart condition.
He was on his way back home when he collapsed.
A passer-by reportedly tried to perform CPR but it was too late and he died at the scene.
His partner Lauren McCaughtry (28) was waiting for him at their Lisburn home when the police came to her door to tell her that he had died.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, she said: "It was really sudden. He had never had any symptoms and had never complained of any issues. No one could have known. He was a young guy and he never went to the doctors. It's one of those things that just happens."
The couple got together four years ago after meeting through their work with Marks and Spencer.
Matthew worked as a foodhall manager at the Forestside store while Lauren worked as a manager at the Sprucefield store.
She said she is still trying to come to terms with the death of her "absolute soulmate".
"We've been together for a short time in the grand scheme of things but we have an absolute lifetime of memories," she said.
"I'm just so grateful that we have packed so much into the last three and a bit years. I know that people search for love like that for their entire life and never get it so I'm lucky to have had that love and joy.
"We still had so many plans and things that we wanted to do but I'm so grateful that we knew how we felt about each other.
"I have no doubt about how happy he was and I know that he knew how happy he made me."
Matthew's friends, family and colleagues have come together to pay tribute to him and to support Lauren in recent days.
She said: "It's brought me so much comfort. Everyone who has come to the house has such great memories of him of so many fun times. He was just amazing and incredibly fun-loving. He would have done anything for anybody. People just loved to spend their time in his company."
As they prepare for his funeral tomorrow, Lauren has launched a fundraising campaign to collect money to buy a defibrillator to be installed at the path where Matthew died as she wants to make sure that this doesn't happen to anyone else.
"I have to focus on trying to do something good," she explained.
"It's so tragic and terrible and it's such a waste but I just need to try to do something to keep a piece of him alive. I want him to be remembered for something special because he was such a special person. I think he was just one of those great people who had to die young because he was just too good."
Last night, more than £2,500 had been raised in 24 hours as friends and colleagues paid tribute to Matthew.
Marks and Spencer will also support the campaign by raising funds to include defibrillators in every store in Northern Ireland in Matthew's memory.
M&S head of region Ryan Lemon said: "The team at Forestside and colleagues across the region are deeply saddened by Matthew's passing. Our thoughts are with our colleague Lauren, Matthew's partner, as well as his family and friends.
"I'm proud colleagues across the region will be working together to celebrate Matthew's life by fundraising for a defibrillator in every M&S store in Northern Ireland. We know this is an important issue for many of our customers too and we hope lots of them will get involved with our efforts."
"It's amazing that this is going to be done in his honour and it's such a great way to remember him," Lauren added.
To donate in memory of Matthew, click here